Mississippi hospital CEO defends holding in-person fundraiser for governor amid COVID-19 surge

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Memorial Hospital at Gulfport President and CEO Kent Nicaud held a fundraiser Nov. 2 at his home for Gov. Tate Reeves, according to TV station WLOX

Mr. Nicaud told Mississippi Today that attendees were "very conscious of all the social distancing" at the fundraiser, which was held at his 11,000-square-foot home. 

"This was a very small group of people, and the reason it was at my home was because of the ability to keep everyone separate," Mr. Nicaud told Mississippi Today. "There were probably never more than 21, 22 people there at one time. This was an event that I felt was meeting safety criteria, and the governor was already in town for a tourism commission and chamber of commerce. This was an opportunity for people to talk to [Mr. Reeves] about specific things. We did it safely."

An executive order issued in November by Mr. Reeves limits group gatherings in the county where Mr. Nicaud's home is located to 10 people in a single indoor space and to no more than 50 in an outdoor space, according to Mississippi Today

Mr. Nicaud told WLOX that guests were spread out on two floors of his home and also outside on his property. 

"I understand the importance of minimizing the spread of infection, and of not having large gatherings that fall outside the social distancing guidelines," Mr. Nicaud said in a statement to WLOX. "That is why I recently canceled multiple events that would exceed the recommended number for internal guests, and took every precaution at this event to ensure recommended social distancing protocols were followed."

There were 2,168 new daily cases of COVID-19 reported in Mississippi on Dec. 4, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. 

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