In office for just a few short months, Governor Tate Reeves has quickly built a reputation as a strong leader and a policy innovator as he shepherds Mississippi through the COVID-19 crisis. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday, Governor Reeves detailed the cutting-edge work the state has done to prevent the spread of the virus, and outlined his plans to rebound as quickly and powerfully as possible from start to finish.
“The decisions that we make today are going to determine how long-term that economic crisis remains in our states and ultimately in our country…We’re trying to make sure we understand that we open our economy as soon as we possibly can, but we do so in a safe, responsible way,” said Governor Reeves, explaining that small “mom and pop” businesses have been allowed to reopen under specific guidelines, while additional steps will be driven by the data.
Governor Reeves and his public health team put Mississippi on the road to recovery by adopting a laserlike focus on testing and tracing COVID-19 cases from the very beginning, long before the issue gained national attention.
“[W]e always believed in our strategy, which is identify and isolate those who test positive, that testing was critical,” said Governor Reeves. “Not only are we second in the South…the most recent data that was in The New York Times showed us as the sixth most-tested state in America.”
The governor commended his public health team in helping make Mississippi a “true national leader” in COVID-19 mitigation. The state has contacted every positive test in Mississippi through contact tracing, discovered each person those infected with the virus encountered, and provided isolation orders to those individuals, allowing the state to “flatten the curve.”
Governor Reeves detailed the impressive statistics: “On March the 30th [models] said Mississippi should prepare for needing 8,978 hospital beds. We had 400 with COVID-19 patients in them yesterday. They said we should prepare for approximately 1,100 ventilators being used yesterday. We had 78 people on ventilators. They said we should prepare for 80 deaths in Mississippi yesterday. We had eight.”
Looking ahead, Governor Reeves touted Mississippi’s strong fiscal position to support a recovery: A full rainy-day fund, one of the five best-funded unemployment trust funds in America, and lower spending compared to other states all contribute to the governor’s readiness to bring Mississippi back stronger than ever.