On Wednesday afternoon, Governor Tate Reeves issued a new executive order that places 61 of the state’s 82 counties under a mask mandate in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus within Mississippi.
The newest order includes the following counties:
Adams, Alcorn, Amite, Attala, Bolivar, Calhoun, Carroll, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, Copiah, Covington, De Soto, Forrest, Franklin, Grenada, Harrison, Hinds, Holmes, Itawamba, Jackson, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Kemper, Lafayette, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Leflore, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Panola, Pearl River, Perry, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Rankin, Scott, Simpson, Stone, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union, Washington, Webster, Winston, Yalobusha, and Yazoo.
Reeves also announced statewide restrictions on social gatherings, in which indoor crowds are limited to ten while outdoor gatherings should be restricted to less than 50.
For public schools across Mississippi, face masks are required whenever social distancing is not possible as students head into the final portion of the semester, and for school sporting events, indoor sports venues are now restrained to four spectators per student participant, or 250 limited spectators, as the first-term governor seemed adamant on not canceling or postponing winter sports.
Even with the newest executive order, Reeves voiced his belief that government policies do not truly have the power to reduce the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I signed this order because I think that all of these things will help, however, I do not believe that policies handed down from the state executives has the ability to move mountains,” he stated. “We’re going to see the spread of COVID-19, and it’s going to fluctuate—whatever words we write on the page of an executive order.”
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, who also joined Reeves in the press conference, apologized for the “erroneous numbers” that were prematurely and inaccurately released this morning, citing that the actual COVID-19 numbers from Wednesday’s report include 2,746 cases—the state’s highest one-day rise since the onset of the pandemic—and 24 additional deaths.
“I would like to apologize for the erroneous numbers we released this morning,” Dobbs said. “There was a data field issue where we didn’t get birthdays for many of the patients, and it interfered with our automated portion of our de-duplication algorithm. When we did our quality control measures by hand thereafter, we did find the error and went back and corrected that, but still, 2,746 is a phenomenal number.”
As the numbers continue to worsen in Mississippi, Dobbs reiterated that improvement may be near as the state is still slated to receive around 25,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine by next week.
To watch the full press briefing, check out the video below.