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SPLC Denounce Governor Reeves Remarks as Dismissive of Mississippi's High COVID-19 Death Rate, Impact on Gulf Coast Students

JACKSON, Miss. — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) refutes Governor Tate Reeves’ attempts at downplaying the impact of COVID-19 in Mississippi, as the state recently ranked the highest per capita in the nation of COVID-related deaths.

School districts in the state are seeing upticks in student infections and quarantines, particularly in the Jackson and Harrison County school districts. The Jackson County School District reported a 25% increase during its second four-week stretch of the 2021-22 school year, compared to the first four weeks of school. And in the Harrison County School District, student infections are nowhere close to keeping up with general statewide declines over the past month.

The following statement is from Will Bardwell, senior staff attorney for the SPLC:

“Mississippi having the highest rate of deaths per capita from COVID-19 out of all 50 states is a sad and unnecessary statistic that the Governor has the power to change by simply requiring compliance with CDC guidance for the people in this state, and especially in our public schools.

“More than 9,000 Mississippians have died from COVID, and an unacceptably high number of them have been children. Governor Reeves and district officials in the Jackson and Harrison County school districts have created a dangerous environment for all schoolchildren – including children with disabilities that make them more vulnerable in this pandemic, such as children who are immunocompromised. 

"Unfortunately, those students must unfairly be more concerned with catching a deadly virus than focusing on their schoolwork and living out their childhoods.

“The SPLC is committed to protecting these children. We intend to continue standing with parents of children who are medically vulnerable and must face school districts that ignore CDC guidance.”

If you are the parent or guardian of an immunocompromised child who is a student in the Harrison County or Jackson County school districts, contact attorney Will Bardwell at