Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he was prepared to unveil the easing of state restrictions Friday. He said he knows the economy needs to be reopened and that residents of his state are ready to get back to work and see a normal way of life again. However, as he was set to announce those plans Friday during the state’s task force briefing, the latest coronavirus data forced him to stop in his tracks.
Mississippi, he said, had just had its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases and its largest increase in deaths.
“Every single day, I have come before you and been transparent. I was transparent when I made decisions that turned out to be right. And I believe I was transparent when I made decisions that turned out to be wrong,” he said Friday.
“This thing is not over, we are not out of the woods yet. Things can change quickly. We have to stay flexible,” Reeves said during Friday’s briefing. “This was a large enough change to make me take a step back… and I have come to the conclusion that I must hold on for now.”
Reeves said he hopes to announce more reopenings soon, but the timing is not right. Meanwhile, the governor is in a battle with the state legislature over federal COVID-19 stimulus funding.
The legislature voted Friday to prevent Reeves’ office from spending federal coronavirus money, saying the executive branch shouldn’t be the sole decider on how to spend the CARES money in the state.
Reeves said that decision only delays getting much-needed funds to residents.
“Best case scenario, weeks from now, they start debating that budget. They over-estimate and we have to send a lot of your money back to the federal government when it goes unused,” Reeves said in a statement Friday night. “Worst case scenario, they underestimate and people die because we can’t get them what they need.”
Mississippi has more than 7,200 diagnosed coronavirus cases and at least 281 deaths.