by Hunter Dawkins

Following a health outbreak amongst the state legislators after a break in the session and a large increase in the number of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in Mississippi; leaving the total to just under 33,000, Governor Tate Reeves expressed he will be issuing new executive orders in regards to social distancing and a mask mandate throughout the state.

Part of these tighter restrictions includes mandating masks be worn in public gatherings and shopping environments for 13 counties; including Harrison because of the huge COVID-19 case increase.

“We’ve done it before successfully and it is know likely time to do it again,” said Governor Reeves in his Jackson press conference at the Woolfolk Building.  “I know I sound like a broken record, however, people must change their actions.”

Then, the governor spoke of the potential overwhelming status in our health care system, discussing his executive order to rules on hospitals and the lack of care for infected patients.  According to Reeves, counties and municipalities must be the backbone instead of regulations set by him.

“Seeing others break the rules, does not give you an excuse to do the same,” said Reeves appearing frustrated with the recent increase.  “None of us have been perfect, we have all made mistakes and the only way people in local communities will start to adhere is if there is buy-in (to the rules) by the local leaders and elected officials.”

In reference to the state legislature leaving before the budget was set for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) and a cut in the School Recognition program for the Mississippi Department of Education for the $6 billion budget approved by the State Legislature last week, the governor offered mixed reviews to the question asked by The Gazebo Gazette.

“This matter is very troubling to me personally as we have worked with our legal team,” said Governor Reeves, attempting to offer resolution for outstanding budget concerns.  “We are looking at ways to continue funding this agency, but it would be certainly easier if we had a budget to work with.  The fact is that we are in a public health crisis and we have to make decision, as it is to high of a risk for the legislature to come back to handle these issues right now.”

Governor Reeves noted that the earliest they decided to return would be at least 14 days, according to the health department officials.  Due to the $6 billion budget adopted, agencies will consume cuts of up to 5% this fiscal year.