There are new calls for Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves to expand his mask mandate from currently covering 41 of the 82 counties to a statewide mandate in the continuing fight against COVID-19.
The latest group to urge a statewide mandate comes from the leaders of four Mississippi healthcare organizations. Those represented are the Mississippi chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippi State Medical Association, and the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians.
The 41 counties Reeves has targeted are mandated to wear face coverings in all public settings or where social distancing is not possible. Those in the affected counties are to wear masks inside businesses, schools or other public indoor spaces with social distancing guidelines cannot be followed. Groups are to be limited to no more than 50 outside and no more than 10 inside, also when social distancing can’t be done.
The latest group of counties added during the governor’s Tuesday update news conference in Jackson.
Called the “Safe Recovery” order, the requirements to wear masks are currently set to end on Dec. 11.
The governor has continually stated that his localized approach is the best policy, but the four medical leaders who signed Wednesday’s letter feel differently.
“When your office instituted the first statewide mask mandate on Aug. 4, Mississippi was averaging about 1,000 new cases per day,” the letter read. “When the mandate was lifted on Sept. 30, that number was down to around 500 cases per day. Mississippi is currently averaging approximately 1,200 new cases per day. The statewide mask mandate, which was highly effective, needs to be reinstated.”
The doctors went on to state the upcoming winter in the state will be difficult, but insist wearing a mask will help keep students in the school and the economy continuing to grow while people can go back to work.
According to the physicians, Mississippi had 910 patients in the hospital with confirmed COVID-19 infections and another 104 suspected of having the virus. More than 1,000 patients with suspected or confirmed virus infections were reported to be in Mississippi hospitals for the first time since August.
The letter was signed by Dr. Anita Henderson, state chapter president-elect for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Lou Ann Woodward of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. Claude Brunson of the Mississippi State Medical Association, and Dr. James Griffin Jr. of the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians.
On Wednesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 1,092 new coronavirus cases and 16 new death reports. A total of 158 new long-term care facility outbreaks were also reported.
DeSoto County remains the county with the most number of positive cases reported at 9,731, ahead of Hinds County with 9,668, however Hinds continues to lead the state in the number of death reports from the virus with 197 fatal victims.
A copy of the letter is provided here.