Trump’s recent talking points were also reflected back by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who said he was still taking a “wait-and-see” approach to the coronavirus, even as the state saw its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic hit.


As the Jackson Free Press reports, Gov. Reeves hosted a Facebook Live press conference on Monday in which he rejected calls to issue a shelter-in-place order for the state. Such an order would encourage non-essential workers to stay at home to help slow down the rate of transmission. People could still leave their homes occasionally to go to the grocery, food bank, pharmacy, laundromat, or walk their pets, but would need to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people and practice good hygiene if they do so.

“No one at the State Department of Health has recommended that we have a statewide shelter-in-place order,” Reeves said.


“We don’t want to make any decisions that would ultimately do more harm than good,” the governor later added.

Neighboring Louisiana has, though, as have at least 11 other states, including California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan. Viruses, of course, don’t respect borders, sharing a border with a state with a lax approach to the virus could imperil people in neighboring states (this at least partially explains why there’s been so much coordination between New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with their COVID-19 responses).


One major concern is the state’s healthcare infrastructure. Mississippi, like many other Southern states, has refused Medicaid expansion funds. On Tuesday, Congressman Steven Palazzo wrote a letter to top U.S. House leaders requesting emergency funds for rural hospitals. Palazzo warned that many hospitals are on the “brink” of “collapse,” reports the Jackson Free Press.

Mississippi’s “wait-and-see” approach is also particularly concerning given the high proportion of its population who are black. Anyone can carry and pass on the coronavirus, but certain populations are more susceptible to developing COVID-19 than others. A lot of emphasis has (rightfully) been placed on the elderly, but research shows chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and heart disease also make people susceptible to developing severe symptoms. Autoimmune disorders like lupus also make people at risk for developing COVID-19. All of these conditions disproportionately affect black people living in the U.S. According to the 2010 Census, 37 percent of Mississippi’s population is black.


Misconceptions about who can catch the virus were apparent in Milwaukee. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, officials are reporting that most of the city’s confirmed cases are middle-aged black men.

From the Journal-Sentinel:

The first three Milwaukee patients reported to have died after contracting coronavirus were all African American men in their 50s or 60s. The men who died had underlying conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart problems.


Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik told the local publication that the initial focus on residents who had traveled overseas may have sent a message to people who had stayed local that the coronavirus couldn’t affect them. She also pointed out the connection between the city’s history of housing segregation and worse health outcomes for black Milwaukeeans. Neighborhoods with concentrations of coronavirus cases are also communities that have other health problems.

“Looking at the maps of Milwaukee, and looking where people live, looking at the history of redlining and segregation and how that crosses over into today,” Kowalik said, “when we’re talking about various health outcomes like infant mortality, childhood lead poisoning, you see very similar distributions.”