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Health professional reacts to Meridian mask mandate

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 6:50 PM CST
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Mayor Percy Bland announced Wednesday Meridian’s COVID-19 numbers have not decreased enough for him to feel comfortable lifting the mask mandate.

“The safety and welfare of our citizens, we are keeping the mask mandate in place until March 31st and will review it again after that time,” Bland said.

Mayor Percy Bland says the importance of wearing a mask has not changed.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Keith Everett with Anderson Regional Health Systems says the mayor made the best decision in order to protect the public.

“I think it is a little premature at this point for people to discontinue wearing masks. The virus is still present. People are still being infected.” Everett said, “People are still getting sick from the virus.”

Lauderdale County alone had 1,373 cases and 32 deaths in January, compared to 430 cases and 20 deaths reported in February.

Despite the progress the mayor says the risk of getting infected is still a real threat.

“The biggest concern is, I think we need to have more people get the vaccination shots. Our whole push should be to have as many people get their shots” Bland said.

Dr. Everett says this is only the beginning of the vaccination process. He says as new variants make their way, we will see an increased infection rate. The more people vaccinated means the less opportunity this virus has.

“The concern will be that people will sense that this is over and will not continue to distance or wear masks.” Everett said, “So, the likelihood of seeing an increased infection rate following this is quite likely in the state. Of course, only time will tell.”

Mayor Bland says the city will follow the governor’s capacity guidelines. Businesses have flexibility as it relates to capacity.

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