On August 14, 13-year-old Mkayla Robinson died of complications of COVID-19. She had recently began the eighth grade in a school district that made face masks optional.

Robinson tested positive for COVID-19 mere hours before she died.

She was described as “an outstanding band member and student,” in a report from the Smith County Reporter.

According to the Mississippi Free Press, classes began at Raleigh High School on August 6 and sources told the newspaper that the girl had attended classes the week of her death. On August 10, just four days before Robinson’s passing and after 76 students and 11 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the school started to require masks.

Mississippi’s governor, Tate Reeves, has expressed he had no plans to re-issue a state-wide mask mandate. During an August 13 press conference, he said, “I have no intention based upon the data that I’ve seen of issuing a statewide mask mandate in our schools…Now, if you have a kid and you want them to wear a mask by all means, I think you ought to let them wear a mask.”

Mississippi’s state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, shared his own precautionary measures during the press conference: “I’ll just tell you what I do: I’m vaccinated: I wear a mask in public. I’m avoiding indoor social gatherings. If I hang out (with friends) we hang out outside … and I’m not going to go to a bar or sit around with other people and breathe in indoor air.”

Gov. Reeves is also vaccinated against COVID-19.

The governor also couldn’t quite remember how many children have died of COVID since the pandemic began last year. After shifting the number from one, to two to three and back to two, Dr. Dobbs told him that four children have died, with Robinson’s death bringing the total to five.


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