Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, in remarks Saturday, said that people in the state were “less scared” of COVID-19 because they believe in “eternal life,” as new infections reach record levels and hospitalizations spike.
Reeves made the remarks to a gathering of state Republicans at a fundraiser last Thursday in Eads, reported the Daily Memphian.
“I’m often asked by some of my friends on the other side of the aisle about COVID … and why does it seem like folks in Mississippi and maybe in the Mid-South are a little less scared, shall we say,” Reeves said.
“When you believe in eternal life — when you believe that living on this earth is but a blip on the screen, then you don’t have to be so scared of things,” he said.
Reeves went on to say, “God also tells us to take necessary precautions. And we all have opportunities and abilities to do that and we should all do that. I encourage everyone to do so.”
Mississippi has recorded more new COVID-19 cases per capita than any other state, with around 127 new cases per 100,000, according to an analysis of data by The New York Times.
The wave of infections in Mississippi has put state health services at breaking point, with 93% of the state’s ICU beds in use and 63% occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The state also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with about 37% of the population fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reeves, throughout the pandemic, has criticized measures to slow the spread of the disease introduced by public health officials and has declined to issue a mask mandate at schools, where the disease is spreading rapidly.
In July, after the CDC issued new guidance for those fully vaccinated to wear a mask indoors to help reduce transmission, Reeves told supporters the measure was part of a political plot.
“It reeks of political panic so as to appear they are in control,” Reeves told supporters, reported the Associated Press.