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Governor allows mask mandate to expire, says wearing masks still ‘wise’

In his live-streamed address at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves said he would not extend the mask mandate set to expire at 5 p.m., but had signed an executive order that did extend some restrictions.

“It has been a great few weeks in our COVID numbers,” Reeves said, attributed the drop in new cases to the hard work of Mississippians in taking precautions.

“That is a testament of what you the people have committed to and what you have been willing to do,” Reeves said.

The average number of cases published daily has been cut by half, the governor said, and hospitalizations by two-thirds. At the end of what he called a “turbulent summer,” Reeves said the state has come out of a very deadly wave without having to shut down businesses or schools.

He urged school districts that have not yet opened to do so, saying, “There is no excuse to continue to force parents in some school districts across Mississippi to be full-time teachers.”

Reeves said although he is not extending the mask mandate, he does believe wearing masks works to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“It is the wise thing to do,” he said, “but I believe there is a difference between being wise and (having) a government mandate. We need to trust the people of this country to look after themselves and make wise decisions.”

The new executive order continues limitations on large gatherings, bars, parties, stadiums and some professions where the risk of spreading the virus is highest.

“I am grateful for everything you are doing to make our state safe,” Gov. Reeves said. “Please keep looking out for your loved ones. Please keep praying for our state and please keep praying for our country.”

To read the full text of this and other executive orders, visit https://www.sos.ms.gov/Education-Publications/Pages/Executive-Orders.aspx.