Southaven Mayor pushes back against MS governor, state health official comments about DeSoto COVID-19 outbreak

Southaven Mayor pushes back against MS governor, state health official comments about DeSoto COVID-19 outbreak

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - The Mayor of Southaven is objecting to assertions made this week by Mississippi’s Governor Tate Reeves and Mississippi Health Officer Thomas Dobbs about an ongoing outbreak in DeSoto County.

Both officials say the outbreak in DeSoto County is very worrisome.

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite went to Facebook, pushing back on comments Reeves and Dobbs made earlier in the week.

One health expert says now is a critical time to come together in fighting to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In the last two weeks, DeSoto County has had 1,000 new COVID-19 cases with average daily cases at all-time highs.

It’s comments made by Reeves and Dobbs that have upset Musselwhite.

“DeSoto is on fire. I mean it’s red hot in cases. And if I lived in DeSoto, I wouldn’t go out, I would stay in my house as much as possible,” Dobbs said. “The communities in DeSoto County are absolutely eat up with coronavirus.”

“That is a county we are very concerned about,” Reeves said. “We want to strongly encourage our friends and neighbors in DeSoto County that if you go in public wear a mask.”

Musselwhite responded to those comments in a long, strongly worded post on Facebook.

He wrote: “I mean no disrespect to either and don’t believe either have any ill intent, but both of their recent comments are, very frankly, astounding to me and not accurate at all about our city and county.”

Musselwhite went on to say that DeSoto County’s proximity to Shelby County changes the equation, making their cases look less extreme and posted COVID-19 hospital bed numbers in DeSoto County hospitals, claiming hospital capacity is not challenged at this time.

“So I think we’re in some ways missing the point in trying to decide which neighborhood or city or state or region for that matter is the worst,” Dr. Steven Threlkeld, Infectious Disease Specialist for Baptist Memorial Healthcare, said. “If it’s not to you yet, it will be to you shortly just stand by. So I think we’re all going to share in this and we’re all going to need to share in the solution.”

Threlkeld says he’s extremely concerned about upcoming Thanksgiving gatherings that may spread COVID-19.

“So I think that’s the biggest danger that we face,” Threlkeld said. “I fully fear that we’ll see a very large increase in cases after Thanksgiving, a couple of weeks maybe a little longer. But we need to be very careful about that because if we can avoid that, we’re so close to a vaccine.”

Threlkeld says optimistic reports say a successful vaccine could begin to be distributed beginning in late December, which could dramatically decrease the number of deaths from COVID-19.

We reached out to Mayor Musselwhite, Governor Reeves and Dr. Dobbs for comment.

We have not heard back.

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