A 13-year-old girl died of COVID-19 in Mississippi not long after that state’s governor, Tate Reeves, downplayed the number of cases among its children.
Mkayla Robinson died of coronavirus complications early Saturday just hours after testing positive. The active eighth-grader at Raleigh High School had attended classes most of the week before falling ill, according to The Mississippi Free Press,
“It is with great sadness, and a broken heart, that I announce the passing of one of my 8th-grade band students,” the school’s band director, Paul Harrison, wrote on Facebook Saturday morning. “She was the perfect student. Every teacher loved her and wanted 30 more just like her. Please pray for Raleigh Junior High, the band, and especially the family as they deal with this.”
Cases like Robinson’s — or even the threat of them — have done little to sway Mississippi’s leaders.
On Friday, Gov. Reeves said at a press conference held mere miles from the newly constructed field hospital set-up at University of Mississippi Medical Center: “I don’t have any intention of issuing a statewide mask mandate for any category of Mississippians at this time. I don’t know how I can say that differently other than the way I’ve said it repeatedly for a number of days and weeks and months.”
“If you look at those individuals under the age of 12, what you find is that it is very rare that kids under the age of 12 have anything other than the sniffles,” the governor added. “Does it happen from time to time? Sure, it does. I believe we have had one fatality of an individual, maybe it could’ve been two — I think there’s three under the age of 18 at this time? Two?”
The state’s health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, informed him that there had been four juvenile deaths in Mississippi, including one this summer.
The number did not change Reeves’ position on masks.
The tally also did not include Robinson.
Reeves, a Republican, has deferred the decision on mask mandates to individual school systems, and at Friday’s press conference, he continued to downplay the effects of the virus on younger kids. “For those under the age of 12 who are not currently eligible for the vaccine,” he said, “it is highly unusual for there to be any significant effects.”