Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves on Thursday blasted the newly-released guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which recommends that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas of the country where COVID-19 transmission is high.
“It reeks of political panic, so as to appear that they are in control. It has nothing, let me say that again: It has nothing to do with rational science,” he added.
The Republican governor added that he doesn’t plan on imposing a mask mandate for teachers and students when school resumes in the fall.
“I’ve said throughout the pandemic, I will never say never to anything, but I have no intention of mask mandates in schools,” Reeves said.
Reeves’ comments come as COVID-19 cases are rising in Mississippi and around the country, in large part due to the highly contagious Delta variant. According to data from the CDC, most counties in Mississippi are seeing high rates of coronavirus community transmission.
In the last week, Mississippi reported roughly 10,000 new COVID-19 cases, bringing transmission rates in the state to their highest levels since February, according to The Clarion-Ledger.
Outlining why they changed the mask guidance, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted the Delta variant “behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus.”
“Information on the Delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that in rare occasions some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” Walensky said Tuesday.
The CDC also recommended that all people in K-12 schools wear masks, even if they’re vaccinated.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday encouraged Americans to follow the new guidance and said the latest announcement from the CDC “is another step on our journey to defeating this virus.”
“I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it. I certainly will when I travel to these areas,” Biden said in a statement.
Reeves isn’t the only Republican official who has criticized the CDC’s mask guidelines.
“A year and a half ago the CDC was one of the most respected scientific organizations in the world and they allowed themselves to be politicized,” he said.
Newsweek reached out to the CDC and to Reeves’ office for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.