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State legislators disagree on need for statewide mask mandate

Mississippi saw its highest number of reported COVID-19 cases over the weekend
Updated: Nov. 22, 2020 at 10:57 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - On Saturday, the Mississippi Department of Health reported the highest total of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 1,972.

MSDH also reported 15 deaths that day as well.

The alarming numbers prompted Mississippi’s 110th House District representative Jeramey Anderson to send a tweet to Governor Tate Reeves to take action.

On Twitter, Rep. Anderson wrote:

“Wear a mask! Governor @tatereeves —we’re in a crisis. We need another statewide mask order, rollback the reopening of bars, clubs, in door dinning at restaurants, and restrict sporting events. Hundreds of Mississippians will die if we continue to fail at mitigating #COVID.”

Anderson is calling on the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate, which he believes should’ve never been lifted in the first place.

“In the summer when we issued the mask order, we saw numbers drop drastically in regards to where we were,” said Anderson. “There’s no need for an increase in deaths, there’s no need for an increase in cases. We’ve been here before, we know what to do, it’s just a matter of are we going to actually do it, and right now we haven’t rose to that challenge.”

The state representative also thinks the state should rollback re-opening bars, clubs, and in-door dinning at restaurants.

He believes both options will help slow the spread of the coronavirus and hopefully save lives.

“Let’s shutdown some things, let’s shut down some bars, or add some restrictions,” said Anderson. “No one wants that, we know that that is not the best option, but it is an option. My question is, if not that, then we must use the masks. You can’t say I don’t want to do either, because that’s not an option.”

However, District 42 Senator Chris McDaniel said he’s against both of those options.

“Government can sometimes be a bit heavy handed, and that’s my concern, said McDaniel. “I hope people recognize the dangers, I hope they proceed in this crisis with the knowledge of the right way to behave, I’m just not a fan of a statewide mask mandate. I’m never going to be a fan of a statewide mask mandate.”

McDaniel said individuals should have the right to choose if they want to wear a mask.

Even with the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths steadily increasing, the senator believes trusting people to do the responsible thing will serve the state better than issuing any statewide mandate.

“Some folks will say that’s naive, and I get that, but I trust the people to make the right determinations under these circumstances, said Senator McDaniel. “If you talk to people, most are making the right judgement calls, most do voluntarily wear their mask, most voluntarily have social distancing in place. Unfortunately, some of our young people have chosen to go the opposite route from time to time, but that still doesn’t change my initial opinion.“

Governor Reeves first enforced a statewide mask mandate on August 4. The mandate remained in effect until the governor lifted it on Sept. 30.

Then on Oct. 19, Reeves began to place individual counties under a mask mandate as cases and deaths continued to rise.

On. Nov. 11, Gov. Reeves extended his Safe Recovery Order until December 11. He has since placed 22 counties under a mask mandate: Benton, Carroll, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Harrison, Hinds, Humphreys, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leflore, Lee, Madison, Marshall, Montgomery, Pontotoc, Rankin, Tate, Winston, Itawamba, and Yalobusha.

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