Gov. Tate Reeves added 19 counties to the mask mandate under his executive order on Tuesday, bringing the total to 41, or half of the state’s counties.

Asked repeatedly during a press briefing about a statewide mask mandate, Reeves responded that there is no “one silver bullet,” and that it’s important to pinpoint counties with rising case numbers rather than enacting a blanket order.

“There is no one single bullet, there is no one thing that we can do as a state, there is no one thing that I as a leader or we as a state can do to make this go away,” Reeves said.

He went on to compare Mississippi’s rate of new cases compared to other states, including those with statewide mandates. As of Sunday, Mississippi ranked 35th in daily new cases per capita.

In addition to the 22 counties already under a mandate, the 19 new ones are: Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowndes, Neshoba, Panola, Perry, Prentiss, Stone, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union.

Reeves’ continued refusal to implement a statewide mandate comes a day after a top health official in the state called on him to do so.

Of the 41 counties under a mandate, Reeves said four no longer met the threshold used for the rule, but he kept them under the mandate because cases were still relatively high. The criteria are that a county must have, over a two-week period, over 200 new cases — as well as 200 cases per 100,00 people — or over 500 cases per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, Mississippi as a whole has met both those marks for five straight days now.


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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 NBC.com. 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.