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As average COVID-19 cases drop to lows not seen since April 2020, Jackson’s mask mandate remains in effect

Mayor Lumumba wants county’s vaccination rate at certain threshold before dropping executive order, but won’t disclose what it is
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 9:15 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s average reported cases of the coronavirus have now dropped to levels not seen in nearly fourteen months, according to a 3 On Your Side analysis of data from the Mississippi State Department of Health.

While experts cite vaccinations as the reason, the vaccination rate stands as the reasoning behind the Capital City’s mask mandate, still in effect for nearly a year.

“We are are happy and proud to see that we’re seeing regression in our COVID cases. But I would reiterate that we are not out of the woods yet,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said.

That will only change, Lumumba says, when Hinds County’s vaccination percentage goes up. Right now, 34 percent of residents there are fully vaccinated, according to MSDH.

What’s the threshold Lumumba wants to see to drop the mask mandate? He wouldn’t say when asked by reporters Wednesday.

“I will not give you that number, only to follow the instruction and advice of my COVID Task Force. The overwhelming majority of people are not vaccinated. And so if the overwhelming majority of people are not vaccinated, then we know if that is the protection that we rely on, in order to lift the mask [mandate], then we have some improving to do,” Lumumba said.

That improvement only comes from getting more people in Hinds County vaccinated, he added.

Health experts like Dr. Jonathan Wilson, UMMC’s chief administrative officer, agree, pointing out that mask wearing as prevention against COVID-19 should be a last resort for those hesitant to get the shot.

“I think good hygiene and washing our hands and everything goes into that formula. But certainly if you’re not vaccinated, wearing a mask is really all we can do,” Wilson said.

CDC guidance issued last month said fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks in indoor or outdoor areas, barring certain exceptions.

Lumumba agrees with that and says the city’s following the CDC’s recommendations even while requiring masks.

“From a city’s implementation standpoint, it is near impossible to, you know, approach people and say, ‘Are you vaccinated? Are you not vaccinated? You should have a mask on. You should not have a mask on,’” Lumumba said.

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