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Lincoln, Lawrence counties added to mask mandate

Lincoln County now has a governor-issued mask mandate, and Lawrence County does, as well.

Under Gov. Tate Reeves’ new order Tuesday, anyone in public is urged to wear a mask to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The mandate goes into effect for the added areas at 8 a.m. Wednesday and extends through 5 p.m. Dec. 11.

Lincoln County has reported 22 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with a new total of 1,861. There was one additional coronavirus-related death reported for the county from death certificate information gathered Oct. 15-Nov. 18. Sixty-five people from Lincoln County have died from the virus since March.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 665 new cases and 53 new deaths Tuesday, bringing case totals to 144,544 and death totals to 3,729.

Gov. Reeves Tuesday asked families not to meet in large gatherings for Thanksgiving to avoid spreading COVID-19, and added 19 counties to his mask mandate, now reaching 41 counties.

“The more you limit it, the better,” Reeves said during his Tuesday afternoon broadcast, suggesting meeting only within nuclear families with individually-plated meals and sitting outside is the best way to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

When asked why not issue a statewide mask mandate, the governor responded that although there is no doubt wearing masks works to help limit spread of the virus, a mandate from his office for the entire state is not the best way to approach the danger. A county-by-county approach is better, he said.

“My view is this notion of a mask mandate has really become a buzzword in this fight against COVID,” Reeves said. “The fact of the matter is none of those actions taken by themselves is a panacea. None of them is a silver bullet. I issued a statewide mandate when I believed it was necessary to do so. … It’s not about the words on the page, it’s about what are you as a governor, as a leader, doing to convince as many people as you possibly can to do the right thing. … I don’t believe the statewide mask mandate that is left in place for months and months is the right policy.”

Monday, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he was exhausted trying to convince people to take the virus seriously and follow public health guidelines.

“I’ll just to confess to you guys, I’m exhausted trying to convince folks to do stuff. It’s just going nowhere,” Dobbs said during a meeting with members of the Mississippi Senate.

Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported more than 144,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,729 deaths from COVID-19. Hospitalizations are rising, with 946 people hospitalized in Mississippi with coronavirus Monday, compared with 560 on Nov. 4, according to the state Department of Health.

Other counties added to the mask mandate are: Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowndes, Neshoba, Panola, Perry, Stone, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union.

Testing is available in Brookhaven at King’s Daughters Medical Center. The COVID screening site is located behind the Emergency Room and will be open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call 601-835-9455 to make an appointment.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.