Gov. Tate Reeves said on Thursday that if President-elect Joe Biden introduced a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow down the coronavirus, Mississippi would not participate.
Reeves made this comment in a COVID-19 briefing live streamed on Facebook, referring to a remark one of Biden’s advisers made earlier this week. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said a nationwide lockdown for four to six weeks could help keep the spread of the coronavirus under control.
Reeve’s comment came one day after he extended mask mandates for 15 counties in Mississippi until Dec. 11. One of Reeve’s daughters also tested positive for the coronavirus this week.
“The fact is that we’re going to try to work with whomever the president is, but we’re not going to participate in a nationwide lockdown,” Reeves said. “This notion that one of (Biden’s) advisers has said that all we really need is about a six-week national lockdown and we can slow down the spread of this virus is totally and completely beyond reasonableness.”
As of Thursday, there has been a 23% increase in COVID-19 cases in Mississippi in the last two weeks. State health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said that Mississippi’s hospitals were under “extreme stress” last week.
Throughout the state, 88% of the intensive care units are filled, and seven COVID-care centers, including Baptist Memorial Hospital in Southaven and University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, now have zero beds available. In the past two weeks, total hospitalizations have risen 6%, patients in the ICU have risen 15% and patients on ventilators have risen 23%.
Mississippi has reported 130,000 cases of the 10.5 million that have been reported in the United States since the pandemic began, according to the Mississippi Department of Health.
There are currently 20 active student cases at the University of Mississippi, with three students in isolation and two in quarantine on campus.