Some municipalities in Mississippi are enforcing mask mandates to help slow the spread of the coronavirus as the statewide order expired last week.
New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have increased this week in Mississippi, and health officials have concerns about residents not wearing masks in public. The Governor chose not to extend his mask mandate last week, but some local officials have extended orders in their jurisdiction. Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton has mandated face coverings be worn in public until November 11th. He says he's following recommendations of local health experts and says he's concerned that leaders like the President are discouraging mask usage. "The President kinda came across as anti-mask. That was [at] the debate on Tuesday. The next day you see his acolyte, Governor Reeves, do away with the mask requirement in the state of Mississippi," says Mayor Shelton. "That leads to people in the city of Tupelo refusing to wear a mask, and they're going to end up in the hospital or even worse."
Warren County has seen a large decrease in cases, and has one of the lowest COVID-19 test positivity rates in the state, at 1.4 percent.
In Vicksburg, masks are required when in public places where social distancing can not be followed. Mayor George Flaggs says he believes it has helped keep new daily coronavirus cases low. "We're averaging about three to four [cases], we're continuing to bring it down, and I think the reason why we're bringing them down and we're minimizing the deaths is because people in Vicksburg are practicing social distancing and they're wearing masks," says Mayor Flaggs.
Other areas with mask mandates include Oktibbeha County, the Cities of Jackson, Meridian, and Hattiesburg.
Health officials are encouraging every Mississippian to continue wearing masks, even if it is not mandated.