Analysis: Half of Miss. counties could face mask mandates, coronavirus-related restrictions

Gov. Reeves: Some counties have shown downturns in cases, but requirements stay for now

Analysis: Half of Miss. counties could face mask mandates, coronavirus-related restrictions

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Eighteen additional counties could face greater restrictions because of coronavirus case spikes in those areas, according to a 3 On Your Side analysis of Mississippi State Department of Health data which evaluated each county with the same methodology used to determine other hot spots in the state.

Those counties -- Calhoun, Carroll, Coahoma, Copiah, Holmes, Jones, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lee, Leflore, Marion, Montgomery, Noxubee, Perry, Pontotoc, Smith, Tunica and Winston -- either have more than 200 new coronavirus cases or 500 cases per 100,000 people in a two-week period.

Analysis: Half of Miss. counties could face mask mandates, coronavirus-related restrictions
Analysis: Half of Miss. counties could face mask mandates, coronavirus-related restrictions (Source: WLBT)

Should Gov. Tate Reeves add those to the 23 counties already under mask mandates and social distancing requirements, it would mean 41 of the state’s 82 counties would be under greater restrictions intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Reeves said he would announce additional counties to be added to his order during Friday’s press briefing, but did not mention specifics.

On Wednesday, a 3 On Your Side investigation revealed new cases trending down in three counties: Claiborne, Grenada and Jefferson.

“We have seen a downturn or a downtick in the number of cases in a number of counties, but it’s not because I wrote the words on the page, okay?” Reeves said. “It’s because the people in those counties decided to participate in protecting themselves and protecting their neighbors.”

Analysis: Half of Miss. counties could face mask mandates, coronavirus-related restrictions
Analysis: Half of Miss. counties could face mask mandates, coronavirus-related restrictions (Source: WLBT)

At the same time, Reeves said it has been less than two weeks since those initial counties were placed on restrictions, meaning they wouldn’t likely be taken off the state’s list on Friday.

“I don’t think we’ll take anyone off [Friday]. I think we’ll probably let that go at least another week,” Reeves said.

Earlier this week, Reeves added ten counties to the state’s initial selection of thirteen.

Research from 3 On Your Side accurately predicted each one of those ten counties, doing so days before the governor’s decision.

“There are counties, and there are a lot of them, by the way, that we have put additional restrictions on that have bought in that we are seeing at a minimum a flattening and, in some cases, we’re actually seeing a downturn in the number of cases,” Reeves added. “That’s the outcome that we want. We want it statewide.”

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