‘I’m Trying To Talk About Dead Mississippians’: Jake Tapper Presses Gov. Tate Reeves On COVID Death Rate


Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on his response to the continued spread of coronavirus in his state.

Reeves made a Sunday morning appearance on “State of the Union,” and Tapper repeatedly confronted the Mississippi governor over his objections to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. (RELATED: ‘I Don’t Think Scolding Is The Approach’: Jake Tapper Says Biden Should Blame The ‘Liars,’ Not Unvaccinated Who ‘Believed The Lies’)


“Mississippi this week became the state with the worst number of coronavirus deaths per capita. In fact, if Mississippi were its own country, you would be second in the world only to Peru in terms of deaths per capita,” Tapper began. “That’s a horrible, horrible, heartbreaking statistic. With all due respect, Governor, your way is failing. Are you going to try to change anything to change this horrible statistic from what you’re doing already?”

Reeves compared the virus’ trajectory in Mississippi to the one that was seen in Israel when the delta variant struck, noting a quick spike with an equally quick decline.

“We saw a very quick spike and now we’re seeing a very quick decline in the total number of cases. We spiked at about 3,600, we’re now half of that in our state. As you know, unfortunately, fatalities is a lagging indicator when it comes to the virus. It’s a lagging indicator. Timing has as much to do with that statistic you used as anything else,” Reeves replied.

Reeves went on to say that President Biden often tried to make it appear as though the spikes were only really happening in red states, but that was not the case.

“My question is, what are you going to do to change this?” Tapper pressed again.

Reeves argued that the best thing Mississippi could do — or that America could do — would be to allow individuals to make decisions for themselves based on the best medical information available.

“So you’re not going to change anything,” Tapper said.

Reeves went on to encourage Americans to get the vaccine if they had not yet done so and to talk to their doctors about antibody treatment if they tested positive for the virus.

“Unfortunately the Biden administration continues to try to reduce the allocation to red states like Mississippi and Florida of that monoclonal antibody treatment. It’s outrageous,” Reeves continued.

“Governor, if Mississippi were a country, you would have the second-worst per capita death toll in the world, and I’m saying are you going to do anything to try to change that?” Tapper asked again.

“Jake, as I mentioned earlier, deaths, unfortunately, are a lagging indicator,” Reeves repeated, noting again that over the past two weeks the number of positive cases and hospitalizations had already declined from the most recent spike.

“I’m trying to talk about dead Mississippians—” Tapper interrupted.

“My heart breaks for all the Mississippians that have passed away,” Reeves shot back, adding additional data for context. “But Mississippi accounts for 1% of the U.S. population. We account for 1.1% of the total number of cases in America. And we account for 1.29% of the total number of fatalities in America.”

Reeves then pointed to a number of other states that were seeing similar spikes.

“I’m asking you about your state. I’m not going to ask you about West Virginia or Kentucky, I’m asking you about your state,” Tapper pushed back. “You seem to be very, very activated when it comes to fighting the mandate from the federal government. And I understand the arguments you’re making, but what President Biden is trying to do is save lives. Now, you can think it’s bad policy, or it’s unconstitutional, and that’s fine, we can have that discussion, we already have, but he’s trying to save lives. I’m saying to you, your way’s not working and whether you say it’s a lagging indicator, or whatever, your argument is, Mississippi now has, if it were its own country, the second-worst per capita death rate in the world, behind only Peru. And I’m saying, are you going to try to do anything to change that and I’m not hearing an answer.”

Reeves repeated again that Mississippi had taken action, noting that the state had already seen an uptick in vaccinations and that the number of active cases had fallen dramatically in just the last two weeks.

“And these other states that you refuse to talk about, perhaps because they have Democratic governors, you don’t want to talk about them. But the reality is, you and the president and so many other people want to make this about politics,” Reeves said. “The president’s not focused on saving lives, the president’s focused on taking unilateral action to show his power, to show that he’s doing something, but that’s not going to solve things.”

“The Governor of West Virginia is a Republican,” Tapper objected.