Mississippi governor extends mask mandate order; adds 10 more counties

Coronavirus

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Governor Tate Reeves announced that he has extended his Safe Return and county-specific executive orders, adding ten counties under the tighter social distancing measures to help limit transmission and protect public health.

After the governor consulted with State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and state health experts, ten additional counties were identified as localized regions with spikes in cases and at higher risk for transmission: Bolivar, Covington, Forrest, Humphreys, Panola, Sharkey, Simpson, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Walthall Counties. They join 13 other counties that have been under the additional restrictions for the past week.

“COVID-19 is spreading and killing in our state. It’s not a hypothetical—it is happening,” said Reeves. “Today, I’ve extended our executive orders to mitigate the threat, adding 10 counties to the list of those with stricter measures in place.”

Reeves released the following statement on Twitter about face masks:

Warning: this is straight talk. It assumes people can handle hearing hard truth and nuance. If you’re up for that, keep reading.

Throughout this pandemic, everyone has leapt for the “silver bullet” solution. Every few weeks, there seems to be a new shiny object that will protect us all. First it was more ventilators. Then it was a shelter-in-place. Testing and contact tracing. Now a statewide mask mandate.

Here’s the hard truth: there’s no single answer. All of those measures can be useful. None can be our savior. There’s no magic solution coming to save us all from personal responsibility. There is no piece of paper that a politician can sign to make this go away.

It’s a messy, complicated problem. There’s lots of contradicting information out there. It’s nuanced. Unfortunately, our country (especially the dominant political and media infrastructure) does not do nuance very well right now.

I, for one, am very grateful that there seems to be an emerging consensus around masks. I am frustrated—even angry—at the smug dismissal of masks from the world’s experts at the start of this pandemic. They pushed for painful shut downs that cost livelihoods and lives instead.

Now, they are doing something that I wish more leaders would do: they are admitting they were wrong. They are saying we don’t need to have lockdowns. We can use masks instead. We still need to limit many interactions (remember none of this is simple) but no more lockdown talk.

I’m baffled by my friends who are so passionately anti-mask. This is so much better. No, it’s not fun. Of course, there are a few people who can’t safely wear masks. But as policy, wearing a mask at public gatherings is infinitely better than losing your paycheck and livelihood.

Skepticism is good. We should all question authority constantly. I questioned the risk/reward of long-term lockdowns, and went against the grain many times. It’s not wrong to do so. But I’m telling you, the effects of COVID-19 on hospitals are not hypothetical. It’s happening.

The prevailing question should always be: what is the cost of this measure compared to the benefit? We believe the benefit of wearing masks is pretty high. Nothing’s perfect, but it’s good. And the societal cost—compared to shuttering schools and businesses—is infinitely lighter.

We also have to be clear: masks alone won’t be the end of this fight. In a few weeks, there will be something else for everyone to chase in the media. It’s why I’ve tried to deemphasize any single part of the equation—none are magic. Acting to the contrary loses us credibility.

COVID-19 is extremely dangerous. School closures are dangerous. Mass unemployment is dangerous. Those aren’t contradictory ideas. We have to mitigate the damage from all of them. Pretending this is simple, when it’s so obviously not, makes intelligent people stop listening.

The only solution is for all of us to make some effort. Wash your hands. Avoid that large gathering. Wear a mask as often as you can. You won’t be perfect—none of us are. Please just try, because the impact of mass apathy or overconfidence is widespread death.

Gov. Tate Reeves, R-Miss.

Both executive orders are extended for an additional two weeks until 8:00 a.m. on Monday, August 3, 2020.

You can view the signed Executive Orders here: Executive Order No. 1508Executive Order No. 1509. All executive orders regarding COVID-19 are available at governorreeves.ms.gov/covid-19.

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