Spokeswoman: Mississippi gov won't mandate masks in schools

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announces a plan to fight crime in Jackson. Photo Date: July 14, 2021.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves “has no intention” of requiring people to wear masks in schools this fall.

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 9:43 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves does not plan to issue a mask mandate for schools, even as COVID-19 cases are proliferating in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.

“Governor Reeves has no intention of requiring students and staff to wear masks when they're in school this fall,” his spokeswoman, Bailey Martin, said in response to questions Tuesday.

A few Mississippi school districts have already started classes, and others are starting by mid-August. Some parents have raised concerns about the virus spreading among children too young to be vaccinated, and many school districts have said they will not require students or employees to wear masks because the governor has not set a mask mandate.

Reeves, a Republican, has been outside Mississippi for several days and has made few public statements about the pandemic, even as Republican governors in neighboring Arkansas and Alabama have been outspoken in promoting vaccination efforts.

Reeves posted Friday on Twitter that “risks associated with not getting vaccinated (are greater than) risks associated with getting vaccinated.”

Reeves's Twitter and Facebook pages posted photos Tuesday of the governor with one of his daughters in Orlando, Florida, where her club basketball team won a tournament. His recent social media posts also showed that Reeves attended a Republican Governors Association meeting last week in Colorado, then spoke Friday at an local Republican event in Orange County, Florida.

Reeves set a statewide mask mandate during August and September, then had mandates in counties with counties where the virus was spreading quickly. He lifted the last of the county mask mandates in early March, and his requirement for masks in schools expired when the academic year ended in May.

The Mississippi State Department of Health said Tuesday that a child younger than 18 has died of COVID-19. The department said details about the child’s death would be made available during a briefing Wednesday.

The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Tuesday that intensive care units are filling up in some hospitals and COVID-19 outbreaks are expanding in nursing homes as the delta variant of the virus continues to spread rapidly.

“We are seeing more and more ICU capacity being extinguished,” Dobbs said in a video that the state Health Department posted online.

The state Health Department said Tuesday that 653 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mississippi as of Monday, and 199 of them were in intensive care. Those are the highest hospitalization numbers since early February, before vaccinations were widely available.

The hospitalization numbers have increased sharply in recent weeks. On July 1, Mississippi had 113 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 36 of them in intensive care.

Dobbs said Tuesday that dozens of Mississippi nursing homes had outbreaks as of Monday.

In Mississippi, nearly 79% of nursing home residents and 48% of nursing home staff had been vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 11, according to the most recent information posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That compared to the national average of about 81% for residents and 58% for staff.

Dobbs had said last week that Mississippi is in a “4th wave” of virus cases, following previous waves in the spring and summer of 2020 and a larger wave of cases early this year before vaccines were widely available.

The Health Department said on its website Tuesday that 1,291 new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Mississippi.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, Mississippi has reported more than 338,000 cases and more than 7,500 deaths from the virus.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 56°
Columbus
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Starkville
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 52°
Fall has started off exactly as you would have anticipated and it looks like we should have a number of dry days still ahead, but this isn’t a permanent switch, because heat is pegged to return.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather