Mississippi became the first union state to lift a mask mandate to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as cases plummeted.
The state mandate of the entire state of Mississippi was still in place on August 4. Governor Tate Reeves Reeves, a Republican, has chosen to expand the mandate several times since then. However, on Wednesday, he said the decline in the number of confirmed cases of the virus and hospitalization was a positive development that calls for the lifting of some restrictions.
The new executive order ending at the state-level command of the mask, effective Wednesday 5 p.m. and ending November 11 – after the presidential election –; also limits group gatherings where it is not possible to withdraw social with 20 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. These restrictions do not apply to voting precincts, religious entities and schools, respectively.
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, 823,185 COVID-19 tests were conducted statewide. Mississippi currently has 98,886 COVID-19 cases and 2,979 deaths.
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“I don’t extend the command of the entire state of the mask, but I want to be clear, I believe the masks work,” Reeves said. “I think the facts and the data across this country are already leaking.”
Reeves said there will still be restrictions on the number of people allowed in restaurants, bars and other businesses. College football games are already happening in Mississippi, and Reeves said people will still be asked to wear masks while attending games. The annual Mississippi State Fair will begin next week in Jackson, and masks will be needed at that event.
The governor said if coronavirus cases start to rise again, he will consider re-mandating a mask in place. Cities and towns are welcome to put their own mandates on the mask.
“There is a difference between being smart and being a government mandate,” Reeves said. “We need to trust the people of this country to take care of themselves and make wise decisions.