JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves lifted the statewide mask mandate during a press conference on Wednesday.
This makes Mississippi the first state in the country to lift the mandate.
Currently, 35 states have a statewide mask mandate in place. A mask mandate was not enforced in the other 14 states (Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming).
During the press conference, Reeves said the state’s improving coronavirus numbers didn’t justify the mandate.
“For the heavy hand of government to tell you that you must do something, then the underlying conditions should justify it. When we were at our peak and we were making those decisions, the numbers absolutely justified it,” Reeves said. “But because of the work and the effort of the people of Mississippi, we’re in a different spot now.”
The mask mandate was enforced by Governor Reeves on August 5, 2020, as cases continued to trend upwards in the state.
At that time, the state experienced 17 consecutive days with more than 1,000 daily average coronavirus cases.
The daily average is now around 500.
State health official Dr. Thomas Dobbs said on Wednesday that he doesn’t know if lifting the statewide mask mandate was the right thing to do.
“Legitimately, I don’t know. I’m going to wear a mask. I’m going to eat outside,” Dobbs said. “I’m not going to have any small gatherings. I’m not going to go to weddings of my family and it breaks my heart. I think these are decisions that we all kind of have to come to.”
Reeves said he still wants Mississippians to wear masks, although it is no longer a requirement.
“We are moving to an executive order wherein I trust the people of Mississippi to do the right thing. If you want to call that the ‘honor system,’ that’s fine with me,” Reeves said.