Masks are worn as hand sanitizer is distributed at Corner Market on Fortification Street in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

Mississippians will be expected to mask up through September.

Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday he has extended an executive order mandating the wearing of masks in public places in an effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order was scheduled to expire Monday morning, but now expires on Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.

Reeves reported 145 new cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths Monday. He said the number of new deaths was “the lowest in recent memory.” Reeves said for the first time in weeks, the seven day total new cases had dipped to below 3,000. It peaked at more than 9,000 in late July.

“According to the White House, we are no longer in the red zone,” Reeves said.  “I simply want everyone to understand now is not the time to let your guard down….We want people to continue to wear your mask. We want people to continue to social distance.”

While the mask mandate remains in effect, Reeves did ease restrictions on restaurants and other retail establishments. For instance, the capacity at restaurants has been increased from 50% of normal maximum capacity to 75%.

According to the AARP, Mississippi is among the 34 states that still have mask mandates. Mississippi’s contiguous states of Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas have mask mandates.

Reeves imposed the mask mandate in early August, making it the last of the 34 states to impose a statewide mandate.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.