How many deaths, indeed?

Published 9:00 pm Friday, September 24, 2021

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“And he’s oh, so good,

And he’s oh, so fine.

And he’s oh, so healthy,

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In his body and his mind.

He’s a well respected man about town, 

Doing the best things so conservatively.”—Ray Davies



ROLLING FORK—Bless his heart, Gov. Tate Reeves just really isn’t ready for prime time.

This is a truth that those around him are not apt to tell him, due to how famously well he takes criticism, but it should be evident to the dear boy himself every time he goes on national television and, well, confirms a lot of stereotypes about the state he’s elected to govern.

Regrettably, when the national TV lights go on and the videotape starts to roll, the good governor always seem to sport puffy little chipmunk cheeks and the sort of flat affect that is too often associated with the dull normal range on the spectrum of human brightness.

This was the case again last Sunday morning when Reeves agreed to a (last?) request to appear on CNN’s stop on the Sunday talk show circuit, on this occasion hosted by the polite but not always patient Jake Tapper.

Not at all unreasonably, Tapper was interested in chatting with Mississippi’s top chief executive about the headline-making mathematical fact that his state now possessed the unfortunate distinction of once again being number one on a list of something very bad, this time having the highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 in the nation. In fact, as Tapper pointed out on several occasions, were Mississippi itself a nation rather than a state within one, it would have the highest per capita COVID death rate on Earth, except for Peru.

As a function of what’s becoming increasingly inconvenient mathematics, as of last week’s end, exactly one of every 320 Mississippi men, women and children had died from COVID-19.

Not gotten infected, mind you. Not gotten sick. Not gotten hospitalized. But died, as in soon to be slow walking and sad singing and not hearing a word of it.

And then Tapper asked Tater (the Tapper and Tater Show would have been a vaudeville smash) if he, oh, had any plans for perhaps doing something different about that situation, his patience intruding on his politeness just enough to add, “with all due respect, governor, your way is failing.”

And he never got an answer, outside of Republican National Committee talking points and taking pot shots at the current president while being careful not to incur the ire of the former one. Tapper kept pressing him, but Reeves, starting to take on that always desirable deer in the high beams look, never told him or the rest of us one gelatinous, forget concrete action he intended to take to perhaps curb the rate at which his constituents are being pronounced dead.

And that, of course, prompts a couple of other questions, not least of them: If folks are dying in droves right and left and the governor is not going to do anything about it, exactly who might?

And another cogent one, of course, is: Just exactly how the hell did we get in this mess?

And we may have some clues to the latter one, courtesy of the most recent polling from the Millsaps College/Chism Strategies polling data.

The news isn’t cheery. Fully 30 percent of Mississippians say they never plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and 24 percent say they never do or will wear masks in public places., even though some 40 percent of them say that they or someone they personally know has had COVID. That’s like saying, “Yeah, I know those snakes bite you, but that ain’t gonna stop me from handling them…” Just start looking for a hospital, now.

The Legislature should immediately go into emergency session and officially change the state motto to “Don’t Tread on Me,” because that is clearly the dominant sentiment statewide—with the possible exceptions of more advanced university classrooms.

Some 38 percent of us say no government authority or official should be allowed to mandate mask wearing, but interestingly, 25 percent say local officials should. (All politics remains local.)

A plurality, 46 percent, say business should not be allowed to mandate vaccinations for their employees and a 52-percent majority say those business should not be allowed to require customers to show proof of vaccination.

And perhaps most graphically, 60 percent of people in this state are opposed to hospitals giving priority for dwindling beds or supplies to those vaccinated over those who have refused.

No Social Darwinism in a state where the great man’s theory is otherwise so evidently demonstrated.

And finally, a growing plurality, now up to 47 percent of the state’s residents somehow manage to keenly discern it is going in the wrong direction. I got $1,000 says they won’t vote that way come election day.



Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.