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PostMask mandate expected to be extended, possible additional counties added
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Governor Tate Reeves discusses mask mandates at daily COVID-19 presser
Kobee Vance, MPB News

A mask mandate that was set to expire today is expected to be extended an additional two weeks. And health officials are warning that Mississippi has widespread community transmission.

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An executive order requiring masks and social distancing in public for 13 Mississippi counties was set to expire today. Governor Tate Reeves is expected to extend those measures. Reeves says he wants to track an additional 11 counties to determine if they will be added to the order. He says “I fully expect that both the safe return order and the additional measures in those 13 counties will be extended beyond Monday. We are looking at the data and at the information to determine if additional counties need to be added.”

Coronavirus hospitalizations have nearly doubled over four weeks. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says widespread community transmission is threatening to overwhelm the state's healthcare system. “And as a matter of fact, not only could we not find a ICU bed last night for one Mississippi patient, we couldn’t find an ICU bed in Louisiana, and finally found one in Alabama," says Dr. Dobbs. "So again this is a real situation that’s gonna affect Mississippians not necessarily with COVID-19, but with other medical conditions.”

Governor Reeves says he was advised by other republican governors and White House officials to shut down bars. He says he is still working on a possible executive order to address these concerns, but he isn't sure if he should shut down bars entirely, or set a curfew. “Or rather than having curfews, do we move towards having a bar setting that is much more similar to what we do in restaurants now where we have for instance 50 percent capacity, but also maybe we go to where you can’t be served unless you are sitting at a table," says Governor Reeves.

Health officials say masking, social distancing and washing hands are practical measures to slow the spread of disease in public, but they strongly recommend staying home when possible to avoid the risk of transmission.