Gov. Tate Reeves

Hours after the state health department reported the second most single-day cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves announced mask mandates for six more counties, as well as statewide restrictions for social gatherings and bars.

“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of spread in young people,” Gov. Reeves said in a press release. “By far, the group driving these high numbers is people in their 20’s. I’ve been talking for about a week about wanting to do something to curb the spread among young, drunk careless folks.”

Mississippians 18 to 29-years-old make up the largest chunk of infections, at 22 percent.

The order limits all social gatherings to 10 people or less indoors, and 20 or less outdoors. It also requires bars to only sell alcohol to seated customers, and to halt alcohol service at bars and restaurants from 11 P.M to 7 A.M. Previous measures, such as limiting those businesses to 50 percent capacity, ensuring 6 feet of separation, and limiting 6 people per table, remain in effect.

In addition to the 23 counties already under a mask mandate, Gov. Reeves’ new executive order applies to: Calhoun, Holmes, Lamar, Montgomery, Winston, and Yalobusha counties. The order goes into effect July 25, and expires Aug. 3.

On Friday, MSDH reported 1,610 new cases and 28 new deaths, bringing the total case count to just under 50,000.

Gov. Reeves signed a separate executive order extending the suspension of work search requirements for unemployed Mississippians until Aug. 8. The order addresses other unemployment policies, such as extending the suspension of the one-week waiting period requirement to receive benefits until Dec. 26.

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Alex Rozier, from New York City, is Mississippi Today’s data and environment reporter. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Open Secrets, and on In 2019, Alex was a grantee through the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines program, which supported his coverage around the impact of climate change on Mississippi fisheries.