Mississippi governor defends allowing churches to stay open amid coronavirus outbreak
Gov. Tate Reeves, the Republican from Mississippi, told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” Monday that he reluctantly told his state’s citizens to consider staying home from church amid the coronavirus outbreak, but church doors in the state will remain open.
Reeves said that the churches will remain open because it is in challenging times to find inspiration in the Bible. But he said, at this time, the smarter choice is for individuals in the state to watch streams of services in order to prevent the virus.
“We’ve been working very hard to convince individuals to make the right decisions without taking away their individual freedoms,” he said. He said that he doesn’t want a sense of panic to take hold of the state and called on citizens in the state to take care of each other.
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Reeves said the state has 249 coronavirus cases and one fatality. But he has yet to issue any sweeping emergency orders. He told Starnes that the safety of Mississippians is his top priority and his office is in constant contact with nearby states.
Moss Point Mayor Mario King said citizens across the state are still gathering in large groups and called Reeve’s response so far inadequate.
“It is unfortunate, however, that we must take measures in our own hands,” King said, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald. “We cannot wait any longer on guidance that is likely never coming.”
King asked the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to approve a citywide curfew.
Reeves said he does not want to make the coronavirus into a political fight to score points. He said the state has taken appropriate steps to stop the spread of the virus. He also warned that individual liberties are at risk during national emergencies.
“Once you start taking individual freedoms form individuals it is very rare that the government gives those liberties back,” he told Starnes.
Reeves said dealing with the virus outbreak in New York and California are different from preventing the spread in Mississippi, due to the close contact of individuals in larger cities. He said his office is praying for the best but preparing for the worst.
Reeves announced last week that federal loans are available for small businesses in the state.
“Small businesses and their employees are struggling to stay afloat during this trying time, but we will get through this together,” Reeves said Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Reeves made headlines after holding a moment of prayer on Sunday morning and reportedly asked his viewers to join him in saying, “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us this day. As we know we wouldn’t be here without You or without what You have provided for us. And as the psalmist said, ‘Today is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.’”