Half of Mississippi’s counties now under mask mandate
Neshoba County joins Lauderdale County as local counties under a mask mandate
JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is discussing the latest response to COVID-19 in the state.
The press conference comes as hospitals in the state are becoming inundated with patients as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in the state and across the country.
Tuesday’s 53 deaths marked the third highest single-day total in Mississippi since the onset of the pandemic.
“COVID-19 is not going away. It’s not going to disappear,” Reeves said. He says Mississippi was able to avoid the national increase in cases for a while, but no longer.
“It’s clear we’re in the middle of a second surge.”
Reeves notes that because hospitalizations lag behind new cases, it’s expected that the hospitalizations will get worse before they get better.
Reeves added 19 counties to the localized mask mandates, in addition to the 22 that were already in place. This means exactly half of Mississippi’s counties are now under a mask mandate.
The new counties include:
Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Chocotaw, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lamar, Lincoln, Lowndes, Neshoba, Panola, Perry, Prentiss, Stone, Tippah, Tishomingo, and Union.
The previous 22 counties still under the mandate are:
Benton, Carroll, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Harrison, Hinds, Humphreys, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leflore, Lee, Madison, Marshall, Montgomery, Pontotoc, Rankin, Tate, Winston, Itawamba, and Yalobusha.
These counties must also limit social gatherings to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says the number of cases is likely to increase more over the next few days because of a lag in reporting.
He also says the number of deaths is likely underreported. He says Mississippi’s total deaths are up by 18 percent from last year--an increase of over 5,000 more than was expected.
He also warned that it’s not just elderly people who are at risk of death from the virus. The death rate for those 50-64 years old is 2.3 percent, which is much higher than any flu.
“If you have any symptoms that could be coronavirus, you could have coronavirus,” he said. “...even if it’s just nausea.”
He recommends everyone celebrating Thanksgiving to keep their gatherings small and to stay outside if possible.
Reeves thanked the public for praying for his daughter, who was positive, and his family.
The governor said it appears Mississippi is in its second surge of coronavirus. The 7-day average is just under 1300 cases.
Hospitalizations continue to go up but are not at the highest of the year. There are currently 1,040 people in the hospital with COVD-19, with 224 in ICU and 107 on ventilators.
Reeves also added nineteen counties to increased restrictions and the mask mandate, including Neshoba and Jones counties.
The governor said he has no restrictions for Thanksgiving gatherings but urged people to be careful and to look out for your loved ones. Reeves said Halloween events contributed to a surge in cases.
Reeves said HHS Secretary Azar had good news about COVID-19 vaccines. If they make it through FDA scrutiny, Reeves said 22.5 million vaccines from Pfizer and 15 million from Moderna could be available publicly before the end of December.
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