One out of 320 Mississippi residents has died from Covid-19, making it the state with the highest rate of Covid deaths in the nation. But Governor Tate Reeves, who opposes President Biden’s vaccine mandates, says he wouldn’t do anything differently.
In an interview on State of the Union, host Jake Tapper confronted Reeves, who earlier described Biden mandating vaccines for workers in companies with more than 100 employees as “tyrannical” and in this interview called them “an attack by the president” and an attempt to “change the political narrative away from Afghanistan.” Reeves has also refused to mandate masks in public schools in the state and has said the CDC’s masking guidance is “foolish” and “harmful.”
“You’re calling the move tyrannical,” Tapper said. “Just so our viewers understand it, President Biden says he’s using a workplace safety law called the Occupation Occupational Safety and Health Act to justify the mandate. That law says that the government can impose an emergency order if it determines ‘that employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards… ‘ I mean, if there ever were a reason to use this law, wouldn’t it be during a pandemic with almost two thousand Americans dying every day?”
“Well, again, over 9000 Mississippians have passed away with Covid and every single one of them breaks my heart,” Reeves said. “It is a very difficult situation that we as Mississippians and we as Americans find ourselves in. But we also have to understand as we look forward: if this president has the ability to mandate vaccines, what powers do we not grant this president? What does he not have the ability to do? And for my friends on the left, I just want to point something out. This should scare you as well.”
Tapper then brought the conversation back to Reeves’s handling of the pandemic in his own state. “If Mississippi were its own country, you would be second in the world only to Peru in terms of deaths per capita,” Tapper said. “That’s a horrible, horrible, heartbreaking statistic. So with all due respect, Governor, your way is failing. Are you going to try to change anything to change this horrible statistic from what you’re doing already?”
Reeves’s answer meandered as he said deaths are a “lagging indicator,” wished the U.S. Congress were “part-time” like the Mississippi legislature, compared his state to Great Britain and recommended state residents talk to their doctor about the vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatments.
Tapper, getting frustrated, tried to get Reeves to answer his question: “I’m saying to you, your way is not working, and whether you say it’s a lagging indicator or whatever your argument is, Mississippi now has, if it were its own country, the second-worst per capita death rate in the world behind only Peru. And I’m saying, are you going to try to do anything to change that? And I’m not hearing an answer.”
Reeves responded, “What I have said to you repeatedly, Jake, is that Mississippi has taken action, Mississippi has seen a significant uptick in the total number of Mississippians that have gotten the vaccine. We’ve seen our case numbers have fallen dramatically in the last two weeks. And so ultimately, as I have said, deaths, unfortunately, is a lagging indicator.”
It’s worth noting here that Mississippi lags far behind much of the U.S. in vaccination rates, with only 42 percent of its total population fully vaccinated. Nationally, that number is 54 percent.
The governor continued: “We’ve seen cases, again, cut in half in Mississippi. And these other states that you refuse to talk about, perhaps because they have Democrat governors, you don’t want to talk about them. But the reality is you and the president and so many other people want to make this about politics.”
Reeves then claimed, absurdly, that by imposing vaccine mandates — because vaccines are the one proven way to quell this pandemic — Biden isn’t actually trying to save lives, he’s just on a power trip.
“The president’s not focused on saving lives,” Reeves said. “The president is focused on taking unilateral action to show his power, to show that he’s doing something. But that’s not going to solve things.”
Actually, if we can get more of the U.S. and world vaccinated, it will save lives. But while this was a pretty disastrous interview, at least Reeves didn’t say what he said last month when discussing why Covid rates were so high in southern states: because southern residents are more likely to be Christian, they’re “less scared” of dying.
“I’m often asked by some of my friends on the other side of the aisle about Covid… and why does it seem like folks in Mississippi and maybe in the Mid-South are a little less scared, shall we say,” Reeves said. “When you believe in eternal life — when you believe that living on this earth is but a blip on the screen, then you don’t have to be so scared of things.”