JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - On Tuesday, Gov. Tate Reeves announced sweeping rollbacks of his previous COVID-related executive orders, instead converting them into recommendations.
These rollbacks include eliminating the mask mandate and allowing businesses to operate under full capacity.
This comes days after the head of the CDC warned that “now is not the time to relax restrictions.”
So, why did Reeves do it?
As the governor said in a press conference while announcing the new modifications, “What I have said from the beginning is that we are going to do everything in our power to ensure that if someone gets this virus... that if they can get better with quality care, that they receive that quality care.”
He then said that while he looks at the daily coronavirus cases in Mississippi, that “is not the end-all-be-all in my decision making process.”
What is the end-all-be-all, according to Reeves, are the total number of hospitalizations in the state, total number of patients in ICU beds and the total number of patients on ventilators.
“At the peak, Mississippi had 1,550 patients COVID-positive in our hospital beds throughout Mississippi,” Reeves stated. “That number is 420 today. We’re down 70 percent, really 72 percent from where we were just two months ago.”
He also said that when it comes to ICU beds with COVID patients in them, the most Mississippi had was around 360. That number is now 120.
Reeves said his goal has never been to eliminate or make it to where no one caught the coronavirus. “That’s not a realistic goal. [...] But what we can do is ensure that we protect the integrity of our healthcare system.”
To Reeves, the only thing that justified the executive actions that took place over the course of last year was to protect the healthcare system. He then said that if someone were to get COVID now, there would be a hospital bed available.
“That doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea for you to go out and get COVID,” he stated, saying that it’s still a risk for someone in their 70s to walk into a crowded bar without a mask. He said this why he continues to stress the recommendations he has set in place.
“But the government is no longer telling you what you can and cannot do,” he concluded.
Mississippi’s axing of COVID restrictions comes the same day as Governor Greg Abbott announcing that Texas will soon be “open 100%.”
Jackson’s Mayor Lumumba, though, said that the Capital City will keep their mask mandate in place. “Our policy is always informed by science, doctors, and their expertise, not our feelings,” he said.
The City of Hattiesburg will also stay masked up, with Mayor Toby Barker proclaiming that the city’s mask order will remain in effect for the “foreseeable future.”