Gov. Reeves axes mandate for masks in Mississippi; replaced with ‘recommendations’

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves wears a face mask as he listens to Mississippi State Health...
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves wears a face mask as he listens to Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, unseen, answer a question during the governor's COVID-19 briefing for reporters in Jackson, Miss., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis/Rogelio V. Solis)
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 3:44 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is massively scaling back COVID-19 protocols in Mississippi. He is replacing all current executive orders with “recommendations.” This effectively ends all mask mandates within the state.

“Today, I signed what I expect will be one of my last executive orders regarding COVID-19. Our hospitalizations have plummeted, and our case numbers have fallen dramatically as well. In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate.”

The only rules remaining in place will limit the capacity of indoor arenas to 50% and rules governing K-12 schools. The new order begins March 3 at 5 p.m. and will extend until at least March 31. Reeves says Mississippians are still encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

“Everyone should continue to listen to Dr. Dobbs and other health advisors for the best possible wisdom regarding how you can personally stem any risk of catching COVID. Their insight is valuable,” Reeves said.

He says the time for government interference is over, as the risk for over-capacitated hospitals has shrunk.

“Executive orders that interfered with people’s lives were the worst, but the only possible interventions for most of the past year,” he said.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs advised that the spread of the virus is not over and that new cases and deaths are still increasing. He says the department of health is still “strongly recommending” anyone over 65 and anyone 16 or over with a chronic medical condition avoid social gatherings until they are able to be vaccinated.

All Mississippi residents aged 65 or older, or 16 and older with serious chronic medical conditions, should avoid all social gatherings outside of the household or any in-person mass gathering, including religious ceremonies, or sporting events, until fully protected by an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Full vaccine effectiveness occurs two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and 28 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Mississippi State Department of Health

Reeves admits the virus will continue to spread, and cases will rise.

“We continue to see new cases of the virus every day, just like we see new cases of the flu every day,” he said. Flu cases are the lowest they have been in decades.

He says Mississippians should be able to assess their own risk and make decisions based on their health status.

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