During this weekend’s edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper questioned Mississippi Republican Governor Tate Reeves over the high fatality rate due to COVID-19 in his state. Tapper observed that Reeves’s “way is failing,” and the host asked the governor whether he would change his policies surrounding the virus to help avert further catastrophes. Reeves never appeared to indicate a single policy change that he would make. Instead, he alternated between downplaying the most recent statistics (while acknowledging the gravity of the death toll) and lashing out.
As Tapper initially put it:
‘Let’s talk about what you and the legislature in Mississippi are doing, because I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, Mississippi this week became the state with the worst number of Coronavirus deaths per capita. In fact, if Mississippi were its own country, you would be second in the world only to Peru in terms of deaths per capita. 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?’
After an initial attempt at deflection by snidely mocking Congress, Reeves replied to Tapper with the following:
‘Let’s talk about where we are and why we are there. In large part, just like the summer of 2020, it was the Sun Belt states that saw the initial surge from the delta variant. The first state that I saw seeing upticks was Missouri, and then it was Arkansas, and then it was Louisiana, and now it’s Mississippi. Our surge went from less than 100 cases per day in Mississippi to 3,600, much like what happened in the country of Israel, much like what happened in the country of Great Britain, and in England. We saw a very quick spike, and now we’re seeing a very quick decline in the total number of cases… Unfortunately, fatalities is a lagging indicator… Timing has as much to do with that statistic that you used as anything else.’
Reeves then pushed a bizarrely nonsensical claim that President Biden “wants you to believe that the delta variant is only affecting Republicans in red states,” a supposed claim that Reeves called “just not true.” It’s not immediately clear what on earth that Reeves is talking about. What Biden has actually made clear is that the virus is at this point affecting more unvaccinated than vaccinated people. Notably, nowhere in his rambling did Reeves appear to reference a single instance of planned policy change on his part to help cut down on the potential for future fatalities. The closest that he got was an eventual passing reference to an increasing level of vaccinations among residents of Mississippi.
Throughout the interview, Reeves remained combative, eventually claiming that Biden is “not focused on saving lives.” Instead, Reeves insisted that Biden is “focused on taking unilateral action to show his power, to show that he’s doing something” — which is simply a remarkably short-sighted and shallow way to assess what the president and his team have been doing. Reeves sounds profoundly incompetent. Watch his comments below:
"If Mississippi were its own country, you would be second in the world only to Peru in terms of deaths per capita… With all due respect, governor, your way is failing." CNN's @jaketapper presses Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves on the state's Covid-19 death rate. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/jtbp7XbrKs
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) September 19, 2021