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Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday, under COVID-19 quarantine with his family after a daughter tested positive, extended a mask mandate for 15 counties and other orders through Dec. 11.
The counties under a mask-wearing mandate because of high numbers COVID-19 cases are: Benton, Carroll, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Harrison, Humphreys, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leflore, Lee, Marshall, Rankin, and Yalobusha.
“I know that we are all tired and ready to move on,” Reeves said in a statement. “But the virus is still here. It’s still working to infect and kill. We’ve gotten far better at dealing with it, and allowing for life to go on. But we’re not all the way there yet.”
Jones and Neshoba counties had been in his previous mask mandate, set in late October and expiring Wednesday, but were not included in his new list. Rankin County was added to the new mask mandate list.
Reeves on Tuesday announced on social media that the youngest of his three daughters had tested positive for COVID-19. He said his family would all be tested and isolating.
Later he tweeted: “Quick update: Elee and our other girls tested negative again. So did I. Since Maddie also had a negative test as recently as yesterday we’re going to monitor closely and be cautious. I’ve heard and felt the outpouring of prayers, and they mean the world to Maddie and all of us!”
Reeves urged Mississippians to social distance and wear masks.
Reeves on Sept. 30 lifted a statewide mask mandate — making Mississippi the first state to rescind such a mandate — that he had issued on Aug. 4, and he relaxed restrictions on social gatherings. Since then, cases have risen.
During the span of the statewide mask mandate, Mississippi cases plummeted, dropping by 54%.
Reeves had been hesitant to issue a statewide mask order in the summer, instead taking a county-by-county approach until state hospitals were becoming overloaded. He has said that a county-by-county approach to mask mandates and other restrictions as cases spike is better because people are more likely to pay attention and heed the orders.
This week, Mississippi’s average number of daily COVID-19 cases surpassed 900 for the first time in three months and has continued to climb.