by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher

Mississippi was one of the first states in the country to lift mask mandates due to the spread of the global pandemic (COVID-19) Tuesday afternoon and Governor Tate Reeves let the public know why in his press conference.

“I originally signed these orders and made very clear what my goals were,” said Reeves.  “It was never to prevent all possible spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) because we view that as unrealistic.  It was always about protecting the integrity of our health care system.”

A large portion of Mississippi counties were under a mask mandate for months to prevent overwhelming the health care system, but Reeves said the number of people hospitalized from the virus has decreased and vaccination is increasing.

Reeves issued executive order 1549, which takes effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday and will remain until March 31.

Regulation for K-12 schools will not change and they will still require masks where social distancing is not possible.

“I am replacing our current orders with recommendations. Everyone should continue to listen to Dr. (Thomas) Dobbs (Mississippi State Department of Health Executive Director) and other health advisors for the best possible wisdom regarding how you can personally stem any risk of catching COVID,” expressed Reeves.  “The only rules that will remain in this order are a capacity limit of 50% on indoor arenas, and those that govern K-12 schools.”

Seating capacity for indoor bowl and arena seating is now increased to 50%.  Outdoor activities and events have no regulations.