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Reeves negative for COVID-19, doubles down on blaming protesters for case spike



Gov. Tate Reeves in his Facebook address July 5, 2020. (Photo via video screen grab)

Gov. Tate Reeves and his family were tested for COVID-19 after a number of Mississippi lawmakers had positive results for the virus.

The results for Reeves and his family were negative, he announced Tuesday.

“My girls and I tested negative for COVID-19. Limited contact with the people who were diagnosed, but better safe than sorry! If someone you know gets the virus, get a test!” Reeves wrote on social media.

Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill changing the Mississippi flag June 30, 2020. (Photo via video screen grab)

The legislators who have tested positive include House Speaker Philip Gunn who was among those who stood with Reeves June 30 in a ceremonial signing of the bill retiring the Mississippi state flag. No one in the room wore a mask or practiced social distancing, precautions the governor and the health department officials have been asking Mississippians to take for months.

The governor has come under fire for an earlier post in which he blamed protesters without evidence for the spike in COVID-19 cases in numerous U.S. states including Mississippi.

“Liberal media is trying to claim the increase of Coronavirus was just caused by family BBQ’s on Memorial Day,” he wrote on his Facebook page Sunday. “They completely ignore the fact that our uptick (and other states) began within days of massive protests all over—which they celebrated.”

While health experts have not definitively ruled out the recent protests as a source of spreading COVID-19, they mostly point to many state’s rapid reopenings and the lack of precautions practiced by the public. In Mississippi, the biggest spike in cases came nearly three weeks after the protests in Jackson.

“Honestly one of the biggest reasons we’re seeing community transmission, they’re still not wearing masks, they’re still coming together in very large groups, parties, BBQs, social events,” Dr. Paul Buyers of the Mississippi State Department of Health said June 25 in a press briefing.

In the same briefing, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs also referenced a lack of role modeling on the issue.

“You see these events where leaders are not wearing masks, and so, until the leadership adopts in and buys in at all levels it’s going to really be an untenable mandate,” he said.

Monday, Reeves doubled down on blaming the protests for the rise in cases.

“There are those in the national media who would have you believe that that had absolutely no impact in the rising number of cases. I would submit to you that common sense says otherwise, and I think as we look back, we’ll be proven that that’s the case,” Reeves said Monday in a live Facebook event.

He also went further on blaming the media.

“The news went weeks and weeks without even talking about the coronavirus, but instead focused on other things happening in this country also allowed people to put their guard down,” he said. “It was the hypocrisy of the media.”

MSDH communications director Liz Sharlot contradicted the governor’s allegations about the protests in a statement to WLBT.

“At this time, there is no evidence linking an increase in cases to the protests that occurred a few weeks ago. Our uptick has been in college age kids and young adults completely ignoring guidelines and spreading the infection in their nearby communities,” Sharlot said.

Reeves resumes his Facebook live updates Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

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