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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: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
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The combo of a no named front and former tropical system Nicholas' leftovers will continue leave us with some pretty decent chances for some showers and thunderstorms over the next several days.
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