Gov. Tate Reeves has said and done all the right things during his first six months in office, a period that is certain to be remembered as one of the most challenging times in Mississippi history.
But now it’s July, the second half of 2020, and Reeves was due for a slip. The governor provided it over the weekend, criticizing the liberal media for its reporting on the rising coronavirus numbers — just as Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn tested positive for the virus.
Even worse, Reeves announced Monday that he would quarantine himself for two weeks after coming into contact with a House member who has tested positive.
He didn’t say whether the House member was Gunn or someone else, but it was only a week ago that Reeves, Gunn, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and other elected officials got together as the governor signed the bill to change the state flag.
Reeves was at least partially right when he wrote Sunday on Twitter that the “Liberal media is trying to claim the increase of coronavirus was just caused by family BBQs on Memorial Day. They completely ignore the fact that our uptick (and other states) began within days of massive protests all over — which they celebrated.”
It’s very likely that the coronavirus found a bunch of new customers among the many protest marches around the country in recent weeks. And it’s also true that many in the media gave a free pass to the gatherings, focusing on the marchers’ demands for change instead of confronting organizers about the fact that their actions are exactly how a virus spreads.
Nevertheless, it’s certain that the rising number of positive tests cannot be blamed exclusively on protest marches. Too many people who had nothing to do with the marches have come down with the virus.
Gunn is the most obvious example. Armed with the knowledge that the speaker was tending to his legislative management duties instead of marching for change, it’s pretty easy to see that there are plenty of groups involved in the rising number of positive virus tests.
In spite of what Reeves said on Twitter, it’s also probable that gatherings of families and friends in the last few weeks have stirred up the virus. Most of us did a good job of staying away from others for three months, but it’s human nature to venture out. And nobody has confronted people who made that choice, either.
The governor has to know this, as he and his advisers spent a lot of time coming up with “Stay at Home” and “Safer at Home” guidelines designed to lessen the spread of the virus. He has approved a gradual reopening of the economy, and the frustrating thing is that the growing number of cases over the last two weeks put all those precautions at risk.
It does not matter whether the virus spreads through protest marches, family barbecues, workplaces, churches or restaurants. It matters only that we get this behind us. Right now, unfortunately, the country is struggling.