An eighth-grade girl in Mississippi passed away from complications related to COVID-19 just a day after Tate Reeves, the governor of the state, continued to downplay the effectiveness of masks.
Mkayla Robinson, who attended Raleigh Jr. High School in Raleigh, died on Saturday less than a day after she was diagnosed with COVID. Mkayla was a member of the school band, and the band director paid tribute to her in a Facebook post:
“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.”
Mkayla’s death comes as Mississippi struggles with the same resistance to mask mandates from its leaders as other Republican-led states such as Florida and Texas.
The Smith County School District, which includes Raleigh junior high, announced in June it would not require mask wearing in its schools but would allow students and faculty to bring masks. The district reversed its policy last week and issued a mask mandate after 76 students and 11 educators became infected during the first week of classes.
Despite all this, Governor Reeves continues to dismiss the threat of COVID. He called the CDC’s recent guideline update “foolish and harmful” and reiterated that he will not implement mask requirements.
“I don’t have any intention of issuing a statewide mask mandate for any category of Mississippians at this time.”
What is most upsetting to some observers is how Reeves continues to minimize the threat the delta variant strain of the virus poses to children. At a press conference last Friday, The Grio reported the Governor mistakenly said just one child had died from COVID; in fact, four had died up to that point, not including Mkayla Robinson.
According to The Clarion Ledger, Mississippi broke its own record for biggest increase in COVID-19 infections last week. Meanwhile, the state’s largest hospital, the University of Mississippi’s Medical Center, has been forced to set up a field hospital in a parking garage to handle an overflow of COVID patients.