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10.19.20 – Clarion Ledger — 

Gov. Reeves announced a new mask mandate for nine Mississippi counties experiencing high levels of COVID-19 cases effective Wednesday.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced Monday that a mask mandate will be reinstated for nine counties in an effort to combat the rise of COVID-19 cases in the state.

All residents in the impacted counties will be required to wear a mask in all public areas where it’s not possible to maintain six feet of distance. In addition, all private and public social gatherings will be limited to 10 people while indoors and 50 people outdoors.

The order will not apply to churches, classrooms or voting precincts.

The following counties will be under the mandate:

  • Desoto
  • Jackson
  • Lee
  • Forrest
  • Lamar
  • Chickasaw
  • Claiborne
  • Itawamba
  • Neshoba

In addition, hospitals in the state where elective procedures and surgeries are performed must reserve at least 10% of their available beds  to care for COVID-19 patients. If they can’t, all elective procedures in those hospitals must be delayed.

The new executive order will begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday and remain in effect until Nov. 11.

Reeves: State seeing a slow increase in cases over several weeks

The mandate comes come as Mississippi is experiencing a rise in cases following the expiration of the state’s mask mandate at the end of September.

Reeves said he does not believe the state is experiencing a spike, but is seeing a slow increase in cases over the past six weeks. However, he did express concern about the rising levels.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlhttps://www.usatodaynetworkservice.com/tangstatic/html/pjam/sf-q1a2z3be0d353f.min.html

“We’ve seen this before,” he said. “We know what can happen if we allow this to get out of control, and so we want to be proactive to prevent that from happening.”

On Thursday, more than 1,300 new cases were reported by the Mississippi Department of Health — the highest one-day total since mid-August. More than 1,100 cases were reported Friday.Get the Storm Watch newsletter in your inbox.

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Mandate for Hinds, Rankin counties could come soon

The criteria for counties to be included in the new mask mandate state a county must have 500 cases per 100,000 residents in two weeks or more than 200 new cases total in a two-week period.

Reeves said Hinds and Rankin counties are close to meeting that threshold and could be added soon. Harrison County may also be added to the order.

There are no plans to issue another statewide mandate at this time, even as Election Day approaches. Reeves said he feels another mandate would be ineffective and trample on residents’ rights.

“There is no silver bullet. There is no single solution,” he said. “Look at the data in Arkansas. Look at the data in Alabama. They’ve never lifted their mandate and their curve looks much worse than ours.”

Contact Keisha Rowe at nrowe@gannett.com, on Twitter or at (601) 760-2483.