Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) told Breitbart News that Mississippi’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is “surgical,” allowing for varying local responses determined by changing circumstances. A “one-size-fits-all approach” would be ineffective in the Magnolia State, he said.
“President Trump [and] Vice President Pence have been very clear that they want to address this disaster in the same way that the FEMA addresses every disaster. And that is, it could be locally executed, state-managed, and federally supported,” Reeves said in an interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday with host Joel Pollak.
Reeves added, “That is the approach that we have taken in this disaster. We have been more reluctant than some other states to enter statewide stay-at-home orders or quarantine statewide.”
Varying conditions between and within states regarding the coronavirus’s spread should determine commensurate responses, Reeves determined, contrasting circumstances in his state with New York.
Reeves observed different conditions across Mississippi regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you look at what’s happening on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Hancock and Pearl River County, it’s very different than what’s happening in the far northeast corner of our state, which is almost 400 miles away,” Reeves stated. “In Tishomingo County where the tornado hit, there’s not one confirmed case … and so a one-size-fits-all approach does not work.”
Economic consequences of statewide orders to shut down businesses could be more damaging to public health than the coronavirus, noted Reeves.
“The long-term public health concerns caused by abject poverty could lead to a bigger public health concern in the short-term challenges of the coronavirus,” said Reeves, explaining why he opted against issuing statewide stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.
Such statewide shutdowns could result in 25 to 35 percent unemployment in his state, warned Reeves.
Reeves remarked, “What we’ve done is try to take a very surgical approach in looking at the various other countries and how they dealt with it. We’ve looked at Singapore, for instance, and that is the model that we are looking at implementing.”
Reeves and his state’s health officer are considering the use of shelter-in-place orders for some of his state’s jurisdictions with “significant spikes” of coronavirus infections.
“We want to quarantine [and] isolate those who have it and and make sure they get good medical care, but also we want to quarantine those that we identify that have come in contact with those who have actually had it. We believe that is a much better approach to slow down the spread of the virus to protect Mississippians and then and provide the case management that is needed to ensure that we get a hold of this thing,” said Reeves.
Pollak asked about political critics, suggesting that Reeves is “putting the economy before public health” in opting against a statewide state-at-home order.
Reeves replied, “There are always going to be critics in anything that you do in in elected office. I’ve dealt with that for a number of years. What we have to do is make the best decisions for Mississippi and for Mississippians given the facts available at the time.”
Reeves highlighted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) stated uncertainty of the effectiveness of a statewide stay-at-home order across the Empire State to illustrate his position.
“If you rethought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say quarantine everyone,” said Cuomo during a press conference last Thursday. “I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy. Young people then quarantined with older people was probably not the best public health strategy because the younger people could have been exposing the older people to an infection.”
Reeves added, “The fact is my state health experts have not recommended that we have a shelter-in-place order statewide.”
Allowing different local approaches determined by varying circumstances is “the best approach” for Mississippi, estimated Reeves, “both in terms of the short-run public health consequences, but also in terms of the long-term economic consequences that could lead to major public health concerns as well.”
Reeves warned of inadvertent consequences of a statewide shutdown of commerce.
“We believe in local rule here in Mississippi. If a local government wanted to go a step further than we went, then they certainly have the ability to do so. As long as they did not directly conflict [with the] second part of our order, which dealt with essential businesses,” Reeves explained. “We cannot allow any municipal or county government to interrupt the supply chain [or] to interrupt the essential businesses, like healthcare facilities.”
Reeves continued, “We can’t allow there to be an ordinance which puts a curfew on that would disallow a healthcare worker to drive from their home to the hospital. We can’t allow them to put a curfew in place that would disallow … someone who is restocking the grocery store to drive from their home to the grocery store.”
“Different communities are in a different spot and that makes perfect sense to us,” Reeves concluded.
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