In his daily afternoon briefing this week, Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi reported that the state of coronavirus deaths in the state had increased. He reiterated how impatient he was to reopen businesses. He answered journalists’ questions about the extension of the shelter order on site and the ramp-up of the tests.
And then he wished dozens of state residents a very happy birthday.
There were Alex, Brianna, Asher and Billy. There was more than one 16-year-old child and others, varying in age, from preschoolers to 83 years of age. Governor Reeves pointed out that a boy was a green belt in karate. “Keep working hard,” said the governor. “You will be a black belt before you know it.” “
It was certainly a sharp turn from a gloomy announcement to a pandemic and the spread of economic pain to birthday cries like a DJ. But the announcements – and television briefings from government officials, the House White on the bottom – have become a defining element of the pandemic.
Regular briefings helped transform Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a former public servant and infectious disease expert, into a household name. The graphics appearing next to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo during his briefings spawned instant Twitter memes.
In Mississippi, the addition of birthday greetings has resonated, as many have found comfort even in the slightest gesture, anything that could be seen as evidence of a sense of unity while being legally mandated to stay at the gap.
The decision to include birthdays in briefings was made about a week ago, with some starting to ask on social media if Governor Reeves could mention their children. As governor of the first term, Mr. Reeves also wanted to add some bright moments and stimulate people’s minds, including his own: he noted in a recent briefing that he had just marked his 90th day in office, a period that has already included deadly tornadoes; the swelling and flooding of the Pearl River in Jackson, the state capital; and a crisis in state prisons caused by violence and dilapidated conditions.
“It brightens my day,” said the governor about the birthday greetings in a brief phone call after a recent briefing. To date, more than 3,200 people have submitted birthday thank you requests.