Mississippi governor asks residents to wear masks, issues orders for 23 counties

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MISSISSIPPI — COVID-19 cases continue to pile up in Mississippi, but Gov. Tate Reeves is still sticking to principles he favored months ago, despite a healthcare system on the brink of overflow.

Reeves asked but did not order all residents of the state to wear masks.

The governor added 10 counties to his emergency executive order Tuesday, bringing the total to 23, but he still refused to consider a state-wide mandate.

Gov. Reeves said the state is focused on cracking down at businesses where transmission seems to be occurring.

“We’re having much dialogue about restaurant capacity; we’re having dialogue about bars and particularly compliance,” Reeves said.

The numbers are troubling, yet health officials believe they could be hiding an even worse picture.

The state department of health is struggling to get accurate reports from some clinics in the private sector.

“Even though we’re seeing this huge number of cases, it’s not representing the huge number of positive cases out there,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs with the Mississippi State Department of Health. “All medical clinics out there, please know that it is mandated by law that you report all positive cases of coronavirus to the Department of Health.”

With just weeks before schools are set to open, Reeves appeared frustrated when asked about a  DeSoto County School District event where the superintendent and dozens of others did not wear masks or socially distance themselves.

“In the last 14 days, DeSoto County has had 587 cases,” Reeves said. “We are going to have to recognize that none of us are invincible.”

But while the numbers and trends paint a troubling picture, the governor is still doing his best to stay optimistic.

“What I’ve seen just anecdotally across the last week, we are getting more and more compliance of wearing masks in public,” Gov. Reeves said.

Whether or not the state’s pandemic problem will get turned around remains to be seen.

Reeves also said the state is not yet considering a shortened school year.

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