Despite stricter restrictions, including mask mandates, in more than half of Mississippi’s 81 counties, Governor Tate Reeves said he has no plans to impose a state-level mask mandate soon. According to the Republican governor, health experts and those urging such a mandate are “completely wrong.”
Reeves ’remarks follow after he announced that he will add another 19 counties to the growing list of those with masked mandates, bringing the total to 41 for coronavirus infections and hospitalizations across the state.
Residents of these counties are required to wear a mask in businesses, schools, or other public indoor spaces if a 6-foot distance is not possible. Reeves ’orders limit outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people and indoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 when social distance cannot be maintained.
However, Reeves remains firmly of the view that a nationwide mask assignment does not necessarily protect Mississippians from escaping the skies.
“I don’t think a masked mandate lasting months, months is the best policy,” Reeves said at a news conference on Tuesday. “I think if you issue a mask mandate by county – based on where the number of cases is highest – it’s the best strategy to convince most of our Mississippi companions to wear a mask.”
On Tuesday, four prominent Mississippi doctors, including LouAnn Woodward, chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Claude Brunson, executive director of the Mississippi State Medical Association, wrote a letter urging Reeves to restore the nationwide mask order.
“The COVID-19 crisis continues to plague our state,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, Mississippi’s health care system is once again flooded with COVID-19, just like it was this summer. The data show that the state mask mandate you set up on August 4 worked well, and we ask you to set it up. again. “
Applicants added that “Mississippi’s hospitals are performing and our intensive care units are full,” and some patients have been relocated to the state to receive adequate care.
“The coming winter will be difficult for the Mississippians,” wrote doctors, including Anita Henderson, elected president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and James Griffin Jr., president of the Mississippi Family Academy Doctors.
“We know that wearing masks will help our economy grow steadily, allow children to stay in school, allow parents to work, and most importantly, protect all Mississippi residents from this deadly virus. Mississippi doctors say are asked to restore the nationwide mask mandate “- the letter states.
At a news conference on Monday, Woodward, who also serves as dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Mississippi, criticized the governor’s county-led approach to masking mandates.
“I think we have reasonable evidence to believe that the county-by-county approach doesn’t work,” Woodward said. “It may help, but of course it doesn’t do what we need.”
When Mississippi Today reporter Bobby Harrison asked the governor about the letter, he doubled his view that nationwide mask assignments were ineffective, highlighting the number of cases in neighboring states.
“There is no doubt that I have received a lot of advice from the public, from many different people, about what we as a state should do and what should work,” Reeves said. “Let me be clear: I think the more people wear masks, the less likely they are to keep growing. That’s when the question arises: How can we encourage and find actually more and more people involved in wearing masks?”
He continued, “There are those who believe, and I think they are completely wrong, who believe that the way to do this is for a state-elected official to simply write this on paper, ‘a nationwide mask mandate,’ and all is well.” The problem, Bobby, is that the data don’t support that. “
Reeves mentioned several neighboring states, such as Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Kentucky, that have national mask mandates in place, but are still experiencing a growing number of cases. However, the data show that masked commissions help slow the spread of the virus, and most health experts agree.
Reeves did indeed prescribe a nationwide mask mandate in August as the state jumped in viral cases, but later lifted it in late September, just before the state showed a growing trend in infections again. Meanwhile, Vox’s November analysis showed that of the 10 states with the highest number of viral cases in October, only two, Wisconsin and Montana, had a mask mandate. Of the 10 slowest-growing states that month, only one, New Hampshire, did not have a mask mandate.
A study by researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention published last week reported that after a nationwide mask assignment in Kansas, the rate of coronavirus infection decreased significantly in counties that complied with the order compared to those that did not. In October, the COVID-19 forecasting team at the Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation projected that universal mask use could save up to 130,000 lives by the end of February 2021.
Mississippi reported nearly 9,000 new cases of coronavirus last week, a seven-day average of more than 1,200, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On Tuesday, the state reported 665 new cases, for a total of 144,544 confirmed cases.
Currently, 1,041 people are hospitalized using COVID-19 in Mississippi, which means sweeping hospitals across the state as space is limited.
“In my opinion, this concept of mask commissioning has really become a buzzword in the fight against COVID. It is a word that is not unlike the fashion signals we started hearing back in March,” Reeves said. “In early March, it was about ventilators and ventilators. And then it was two weeks to slow down the spread. And then it was about closures. And lately, we’ve only heard about nationwide, nationwide mask assignments.”