8 Mississippi lawmakers test positive for coronavirus, report says

At least eight Mississippi lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus after weeks of working in close proximity together in the state Capitol where many did not wear masks.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the 52-member Senate, and House Speaker Philip Gunn, who presides over that 122-member chamber, are among those who have publicly acknowledged having the virus.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer, said Tuesday there are at least 11 other suspected cases of the virus among legislators and Capitol employees.

FILE: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves delivers a televised address prior to signing a bill retiring the last state flag in the United States with the Confederate battle emblem, during a ceremony at the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Miss. 

FILE: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves delivers a televised address prior to signing a bill retiring the last state flag in the United States with the Confederate battle emblem, during a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson, Miss.  (AP)

Mississippi legislators were at the Capitol for most of June and on July 1, wrapping up their annual session that was interrupted for several weeks by the pandemic.

Gov. Tate Reeves, 46, said Monday he was in isolation with his wife and their three daughters at the Governor’s Mansion. They were tested for the coronavirus after he came into contact with a lawmaker who tested positive last week.

“My girls and I tested negative for COVID-19,” Reeves wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “Limited contact with the people who were diagnosed, but better safe than sorry! If someone you know gets the virus, get a test!”

The Health Department said Tuesday that Mississippi has had at least 32,214 confirmed cases and 1,158 deaths from the coronavirus as of Monday evening — an increase of 957 confirmed cases and 44 deaths from numbers reported a day earlier.

Dobbs said the rapid increase in cases is stressing the health care system, including emergency rooms.

“My greatest fear is starting to be realized because there are people in ERs now across the state who can’t get a bed, they can’t get transferred where they need to go, and we’re sending them out of state,” Dobbs said

Gunn and Hosemann stood near Reeves and others last week as the governor signed a bill retiring Mississippi’s 126-year-old state flag that had the Confederate battle emblem. None wore masks.

Rep. Bo Brown of Jackson announced last week that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Rep. Greg Haney of Gulfport announced Tuesday that he has the virus.

“We don’t know where we got it,” Haney told The Associated Press. “We had to eat out, so we could have got it from a waitress, waiter, you know, you can’t wear your mask while you eat.”

The Health Department had free drive-thru COVID-19 testing Monday for legislators and others who work in the Capitol. Dobbs said 270 were tested.

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