On the anniversary of signing his first COVID-19-related executive order, Governor Tate Reeves announced the significant step of removing mask mandates and a majority of restrictions across the state.
In the latest order, which takes effect Wednesday, mask mandates have been replaced with recommendations and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules.
“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,” Governor Reeves said.
The one place where mask mandates will remain is in Mississippi’s K-12 schools. Masks must still be worn where social distancing is not possible.
For college baseball fans, the new order includes no capacity limit at outdoor venues such as Swayze Field, Dudy Noble, and Pete Taylor Park. The only rules that will remain in this order are a capacity limit of 50% on indoor arenas.
In recent weeks, overall hospitalizations have declined to around 400 from the post-holiday peak of 1,450. Right after the lifting of the mandates was announced, the Mississippi State Department of Health issued the following public health guidance.
“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.”
Much like the early days of the pandemic, cities and counties can enact stricter mandates if they so choose.
Also during today’s announcement, Governor Reeves and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs detailed that Mississippi will be receiving 24,000 doses of the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That allocation will likely drop over the next few weeks a J&J exhausts its built-up supply. As the rollout of the vaccine continues, over 630,000 doses have been administered in Mississippi.
Currently, vaccine eligibility remains limited to healthcare workers, those over 65, those with underlying health conditions, teachers and first responders.
Watch the governor’s press briefing below: