Mississippi’s governor is reportedly planning several holiday parties at the governor’s mansion this month, even as his own executive orders severely limit indoor gatherings as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state.
Invites have gone out for several parties scheduled for this week and the next at the official residence of Gov. Tate Reeves (R) in Jackson, Mississippi Today reported Monday.
The governor invited legislators from the state House and state Senate to two separate parties, according to Mississippi Today. Though it’s not known exactly how many invites went out, and whether recipients are invited to bring guests, there are 122 members of the state House and 52 members of the state Senate.
Bailey Martin, a spokesperson for Reeves’ office, did not respond to HuffPost’s specific questions about how the holiday parties will meet the requirements of the governor’s executive orders. She instead said that Reeves and his wife have cancelled or delayed many mansion events this year, including a Christmas candlelight event and their daughter’s 16th birthday party. Future events will continue so long as they “can be conducted safely,” she said in an email Wednesday.
But the guest lists for Reeves’ upcoming holiday parties are likely to be much higher than the limit he has set for Hinds County, where the governor’s mansion is located. There, no more than 10 people ― who are not in the same family or household ― are allowed to gather indoors, and 50 people outdoors when social distancing is not an option. The same rules apply to more than four dozen other Mississippi counties that have seen high numbers of COVID-19 cases.
Elsewhere across the state, indoor gatherings are limited to 20 people and outdoor gatherings to 100 people.
State Rep. Chris Bell, a Democrat whose district is Hinds County, said he was among those invited to the governor’s mansion but he will not be attending due to concerns about the virus.
“We haven’t been informed of any guidelines or any precautions they have taken, in respect to this party. We don’t know who’s going to be there, who’s going to be maybe, potentially infected with COVID,” Bell told local station WAPT News.
Reeves earlier this month appeared to disregard his own rule when he attended an in-person fundraiser for himself hosted by a top hospital executive in Harrison County, one of the counties where indoor events are limited to no more than 10 people.
Kent Nicaud, the CEO of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, hosted the event at his home. He told Mississippi Today that no more than 21 or 22 people were at his home at the same time and they were all spread out.
Mississippi’s health officer, Thomas Dobbs, reminded people Tuesday on Twitter that social interactions should be limited to household members only. His urging came as the state’s hospitals battle a steady two-month climb in patients infected with the virus, as both ICU beds and ventilators are in short supply.
The state on Tuesday reported 1,732 new cases of the virus, 56 new deaths, and 206 outbreaks in long-term care facilities.
Reeves isn’t the only politician pushing forward with holiday plans.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has also faced scorn this week over his decision to host a holiday party. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife have also sent out around 900 invitations for one of several indoor holiday parties at the State Department,
The White House is also planning to host at least 25 indoor holiday parties this month, all of which will include more than 50 guests, the Washington Post reported. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has said that masks and social distancing will be optional.