COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise in Mississippi; governor issues new mask mandate for 9 counties

Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 3:07 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WMC) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced a new mask mandate for nine counties, including DeSoto County.

The new restrictions come as the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Mississippi starts to go back up.

“Here in Mississippi, we’ve seen this movie before. We know what can happen if we allow this to get out of control,” said Reeves. “We want to be proactive to prevent that from happening.”

Reeves announced a new executive order Monday, placing additional restrictions on nine counties across the state that are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, including DeSoto County.

  • Chickasaw
  • Claiborne
  • DeSoto
  • Forrest
  • Itawamba
  • Jackson
  • Lamar
  • Lee
  • Neshoba

The governor says these counties have seen either 200 cases over the last two weeks or 500 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks.

“In those counties, social gatherings should be limited to no more than 10 people indoors or 50 people outdoors,” Reeves said.

The governor said masks must be worn at indoor gatherings if social distancing is not possible.

It was less than three weeks ago when the governor lifted his statewide mask mandate after seeing a significant improvement.

Since then, however, numbers have started trending in the wrong direction.

While the number of people hospitalized from COVID-19 is about half of what it was at the peak in late July, early August, Reeves says hospital capacity is stretched thin right now.

There are 541 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Mississippi hospitals, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. Hospitalizations have not been that high since around mid-September.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs shared a chart on Monday morning that shows the hospitalizations related to COVID-19 from May to October.

Mississippi COVID-19 hospitalizations
Mississippi COVID-19 hospitalizations(WMC)

“We’re trying to prevent so many individuals from getting the virus at once that our healthcare system cannot respond,” Reeves said. “And if our healthcare system becomes overwhelmed that means we can’t respond to a car wreck or to a heart attack the right way.”

That’s why in addition to the mask mandate for nine counties, Reeves is ordering hospitals statewide to reserve 10% capacity for COVID-19 patients.

“These decisions to protect our healthcare system can and might affect everyone, every single Mississippian,” said Reeves.

There’s already an order in place that has certain restrictions on high school football games.

The governor says for high school football games that order will still apply.

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