CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed the governor of Mississippi regarding the rate of Covid-19 infections and deaths in his state and what his administration was doing to address the most recent surge of the virus during an interview on State of the Union.
As the two talked on Sunday, Mr Tapper repeatedly questioned Mr Reeves about what specific measures beyond spreading messages of personal choice and responsibility the state of Mississippi was doing to protect its residents from the Delta variant of Covid-19, which is spreading rapidly in parts of the US, and in particular in communities where vaccination rates are low.
"If Mississippi were its own country, you would be second in the world only to Peru in terms of deaths per capita,” Mr Tapper told Mr Reeves, adding: “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?”
Mr Reeves responded that the rate of infections in his state was declining, and said that the death rate was lagging behind that dropping rate of new cases.
“Timing has as much to do with that statistic you used as anything else,” he said.
After diverting his attention to attacking President Joe Biden for supposedly claiming that the Delta variant was only affecting conservative areas of the country, Mr Reeves went on to say that “we believe in personal responsibility, individual Americans, individual Mississippians can make good decisions to take care of themselves”.
“So you’re not going to change anything?” Mr Tapper responded.
The two went on to argue back and forth about whether deaths were a reliable indicator of a state’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
Conservative leaders in red states have continued to oppose any sort of government intervention to stem the Covid-19 pandemic, opting instead to allow businesses and private citizens to choose their own methods of protecting against the virus.
Mississippi has seen its rate of new infections drop from the all-time high rates seen in mid-August; the state however still remains well above rates seen any time since the last major surge over the winter of 2020-2021.
Just over 9,200 people have died statewide from the virus since the pandemic began, while the state is approaching half a million total confirmed cases since the beginning of last year.