Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
As we head into November, a surge in Coronavirus cases throughout the U.S. once again points to a bitter harvest of seriously ill patients and deaths.
As of Wednesday, 3,302 Mississippians have died during the pandemic and the state ranks seventh in the nation in COVID deaths per 100,000.
The number of deaths per day in our state is ticking up, and our efforts to slow the virus’ spread is hampered by our state leadership.
Faced with the indisputable increases in cases, Gov. Tate Reeves is making the same mistake now he made during the early summer – employing a piece-meal strategy that is comparable to closing the barn door after the cows have gotten out.
On Oct. 9, Reeves issued a mask mandate for nine counties. Tuesday, he added seven more counties to the list. His strategy is to enact mandates where cases are highest, i.e., the barn door approach.
What he has not done is take proactive measures. Remember, Reeves was among the last governors to enact a statewide mask mandate (Aug. 7) and the first to end it (Sept. 30).
So here we go again.
Now as then, cities and towns are left to their own devices in requiring people to wear masks in public places, something the overwhelming majority of medical experts tell us is one of the best ways to fight the spread of the virus.
Reeves explains his reluctance to be as proactive as possible as an act of restraint against employing “the heavy hand of government,” as he puts it.
But there is no government overreach and no infringement on our rights to impose measures that protect the safety of Mississippians. That’s not being “heavy-handed.” Protecting the people is one of the most solemn duties entrusted to our leaders.
While many cities and counties — including those in the Golden Triangle — have maintained mask mandates, enduring whatever misguided criticism that goes with it, the Governor’s actions have sent a mixed message, one that serves to dilute the strength of local requirements.
We are hearing one thing from our local officials and quite another from our Governor. Is it any wonder, then, that we still see many people in our communities who refuse to wear masks in defiance of local mask mandates?
Mississippi daily deaths went down when the Governor’s position on mask-wearing began to align with local mandates. Since the statewide mandate expired, cases have spiked.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as the saying goes. It should be obvious the statewide mask mandate was working.
Reeves should have learned that lesson months ago.
It’s obvious he hasn’t.
Fool us once, we’ll accept.
But fool us twice?
Shame on Tate Reeves.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.