Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper on Sunday morning to discuss his recent announcement that he was loosening COVID restrictions in the state.

Tapper questioned Reeves’ decision to lift mask mandates in the state, saying health experts believe the actions will lead to more people getting sick and even dying. Dr. Anthony Fauci with the White House COVID Task Force believes it to be premature, while President Joe Biden called it “Neanderthal thinking,” raising the ire of conservatives last week.

“The fact of the matter is that all of these individuals who for a year have said, ‘Follow the science, follow the data,’ now want me when things are going down to completely ignore the data,” Governor Reeves said.

Reeves said the state’s objective has not been that no Mississippian contracts the virus but rather the goal has been to protect the integrity of the healthcare system, allowing any citizen who needs care can receive the quality care necessary. The Governor said the data shows that hospitalizations, patients in ICU and patients on ventilators in Mississippi have plummeted.

CNN’s Tapper mentioned that Reeves had relaxed restrictions before and numbers spiked, asking why this trade off is on the table now since the state has been here before.  Governor Reeves said the state not only has to protect lives, but livelihoods.

“We have to get our economy rolling so that individuals can get back to work,” Reeves said. “The fact is the numbers don’t justify government interaction at the levels we are seeing in other states.”

Reeves did encourage citizens to wear a mask and maintain social distancing where appropriate.

Tapper then moved the discussion to the City of Jackson’s water issues following the winter storm, asking the Governor what is being done to fix it.  The Governor said many municipalities have ignored routine maintenance on their water system, saying it is inexplicable and inexcusable.

“Long term, the solution, Jake, we’ve got to invest in our infrastructure,” Reeves said, adding that the state has offered assistance in the use water trucks and other coordination efforts.

The CNN host then moved to asking Reeves if he accepted that Joe Biden was the “lawfully and legitimately” elected President.  Reeves used the chance to highlight the flaws as he sees them with other states’ voting procedures.

“In our state we do not allow mail-in voting, and the reason we do not allow mail-in voting is because we think that it allows for lots of opportunities for fraud and other things, and I don’t think mail-in voting should be allowed in other states around the nation,” Governor Reeves said.  “But President Biden is the duly elected President and we’re going to do everything we can to help the citizens of Mississippi.”

Tapper pressed Reeves on whether he thinks the 2020 Presidential election was “free and fair,” saying the notion that the election was stolen was a dangerous idea, and asking the Governor for a “yes or no” response.  Reeves did not give such an answer.

“Every election has some questions and this one was no different,” Reeves responded.  “President Biden is the duly elected President of the United States, that he was certified by all 50 states, even having won or lost. He lost my state by 20 points but he was certified in each of the individual states. He was certified by the U.S. Congress and he’s the duly elected President.”

The Governor said that does not mean there are not bad laws on the books in other states, adding, “It’s just a fact.”

You can watch the full interview here.