13-Year-Old Mississippi Girl Dies of COVID After Governor Tate Reeves Called Mask Guidance 'Foolish'

Eighth grader Mkayla Robinson, 13, tested positive for COVID-19 and died hours later on Saturday morning, one day after Governor Tate Reeves downplayed the pandemic

Photo: Jeroen Jumelet/ANP/AFP via Getty

An eighth-grade girl in Raleigh, Mississippi died Saturday morning, hours after she tested positive for COVID-19.

Mkayla Robinson, 13, attended classes for most of the week at Raleigh Jr. High School after the school year began the week before on Friday, August 6, according to Mississippi Free Press. The Smith County Reformer reported that Robinson "died of complications from Covid-19" and a prayer rally was held Sunday morning.

Raleigh High School Band Director Paul Harrison paid tribute to Robinson, who was part of the junior high school's Lion Pride Band. "It is with great sadness, and a broken heart, that I announce the passing of one of my 8th grade band students," Harrison wrote on Facebook. "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."

Robinson's death came after the Smith County School District (SCSD) announced in June that they would not enforce masks, but would "allow" students and faculty to bring masks to school. In the first week of classes, 76 students and 11 educators tested positive for COVID-19.

"After much consideration for the welfare of our children, Smith County Schools will require all personnel and students to wear a mask," the SCSD announced Wednesday, reversing their policy.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves also doubled down on his passive response to the CDC's latest mask guidance during a press conference just a day before Robinson's death. "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," Reeves said Friday.

Although he mandated masks amid rising COVID cases last August, Reeves called the CDC's newest guidelines "foolish" and "harmful" during a press conference last month, according to 16 WAPT News. "It reeks of political panic, so as to appear that they are in control. It has nothing, let me say that again: It has nothing to do with rational science," Reeves said.

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Governor Reeves also enlisted help from the federal government and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency last week, according to The Clarion Ledger. The move came as the state's largest hospital, University of Mississippi Medical Center, was forced to set up a field hospital in a parking garage to manage the overflow.

Meanwhile, Mississippi broke its own record for the largest increase of COVID-19 cases last week, The Clarion Ledger reported.

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