Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, wife Elee Williams Reeves and their two eldest children are getting tested for COVID-19 after the youngest of their three daughters, Madeline Tate, tested positive for the novel coronavirus. She is an elementary-school student.
The governor announced the news on Twitter soon after he abruptly cancelled a planned 2:30 p.m. COVID-19 press conference where he was expected to announce whether or not he would renew mask mandates on 16 counties that are expected to expire tomorrow.
“I want to share a prayer request. My youngest daughter just tested positive for COVID-19. She feels OK, but could still use prayers! Please pray for her momma too,” the governor wrote. “Our entire family will be getting tested again and isolating for the time being. Stay safe, and God bless!”
The news comes as the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the second reported death of a child from COVID-19 complications since the pandemic began. The child has not been identified and is only listed as between the 6 and 10 years of age. The state reported the first child death in September of an otherwise “healthy child between the ages of 1 and 5 years old.”
Both children died with the coronavirus-linked MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control defines as “a rare but severe condition that has been reported approximately 2-4 weeks after the onset of COVID-19 in children and adolescents.”
The governor has drawn criticism for ending a statewide mask mandate on Sept. 30. New COVID-19 cases soon spiked statewide after that decision, leading him to enact county-level mask mandates in the places hardest hit.
In recent months, Reeves has repeatedly made appearances at public events, including out-of-state Republican campaign events and gatherings at the White House, without wearing a mask.
In July and August, Reeves also faced a barrage of criticism over his decision to reopen in-person class instruction.
Last week, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported a new weekly high for cases in schools, with about 900 students, teachers and faculty testing positive. Schools statewide ordered more than 10,000 others to quarantine at home for two weeks due to exposure to the virus.
Yesterday, WJTV reported that Jackson Preparatory School, the private academy where at least one of Reeves’ children attends, had closed its campus for grades 9-12 due to a number of coronavirus cases among students and parents. The school switched from in-class learning to remote learning through Wednesday, WJTV reported.
A parent of a Jackson Preparatory ninth grader told the Mississippi Free Press this evening that the school has since extended virtual learning until the end of the week. That parent, who asked not be identified, said the school has been “transparent” and followed public health guidelines, including by requiring students to wear masks.
“They started remote learning this week because of exposure the school believes came from a Halloween gathering,” the parent said, noting that the school urged students to stay socially distanced and avoid large parties ahead of Halloween. “The school has been very strict with contact tracing and quarantine for any exposed. But even with all their very careful precautions, it seems that there is a lot of COVID-19 activity happening.”
The Mississippi State Department of Health reported nearly 1,0000 new cases today. Hospitalizations rose to 641 today and the number of patients in ICU beds rose to 199—the highest level in months.