Mississippi lifts county mask mandates and allows businesses 'to operate at full capacity'

Gov. Tate Reeves announced that "it is time" for the state of Mississippi to lift all county mask mandates and allow businesses "to operate at full capacity" as early as Wednesday.

Per Washington Examiner:

Gov. Tate Reeves announced that "it is time" for the state of Mississippi to lift all county mask mandates and allow businesses "to operate at full capacity" as early as Wednesday.

"Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules," the governor said on Tuesday. "Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!"

The only regulations set to remain are a 50% limit on indoor arenas and a number of K-12 school measures, according to the Daily Journal. Extracurricular activities in educational institutions will need to adhere to 50% seating limits outdoors and 25% while indoors.

"Our hospitalizations have plummeted, and our case numbers have fallen dramatically as well," Reeves said in a press conference. "In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate."

He continued: "Mississippians are encouraged, though not ordered, to wear a face covering and practice social distancing."

The governor's office told the Washington Examiner that Reeves will lift the coronavirus regulations on schools "as soon as he possibly can but does not want to give anyone here a false justification to close schools like we are seeing in other states, there is no set timeline yet."

Reeves's announcement came the same day Texas Gov. Greg Abbott instituted similar policies in his state. Abbott ended mask mandates and allowed businesses to reopen "100%."

"This must end," Abbott said during a press conference in Lubbock. "It is now time to open Texas 100%. Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open should be open."

"I am issuing a new executive order that rescinds most of the earlier executive orders. Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%. That includes any type of entity in Texas. Also, I am ending the statewide mask mandate," he continued.

Mississippi has seen a steep decline in COVID-19 cases as the state reported a 27% dip in positive virus totals over a 14-day period, according to the New York Times coronavirus case count. The Southern state also experienced a 34% drop in deaths and a 23% slowdown in hospital admissions.

Both Mississippi's and Texas's moves follow a warning from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who indicated that "now is not the time" to "relax" COVID-19 regulations.

"Please hear me clearly," she said. "At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained."

Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know could stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close," she said.

Mississippi has accrued upward of 295,000 positive cases since the onset of the pandemic, with approximately 6,700 deaths attributed to the virus.

Reeves's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.