DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday they will not enforce Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves' mandate on social distancing nor issue citations for not wearing a mask.
Wednesday Governor Tate Reeves announced he was extending his “Safe Recovery” executive order through Dec. 11.
That executive order includes a mask mandate for specific counties including DeSoto, Benton and Marshall.
Right now, DeSoto County has the second-highest total number of cases in the state of Mississippi, with over 8,400 cases in 2020.
The case surge spurred the governor’s extension of that executive order.
According to the mask mandate, a face covering is required inside a business or school building when it’s not possible to maintain 6-feet social distancing from another person not in the same household.
There are few exceptions for the mask mandate including eating at a restaurant, participating in sports or worshipping inside churches.
According to Reeves' executive order, local law enforcement and the Mississippi Department of Health is supposed to enforce the mask mandate.
Late Wednesday afternoon the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department sent the following statement:
“Sheriff Rasco doesn’t force his deputies to wear masks in settings where the host or property owner doesn’t require it. However, he respects the wishes of our hosts and property owners when they request that masks be worn. We have not issued any citations. We will not issue citations for not wearing masks nor will we enforce Governor Tate Reeves mandate on social distancing.”
Reeves' mask mandate extension comes as the CDC released new guidelines for mask-wearing.
Now -- the CDC says using masks benefits wearers, which is a step beyond its previous statement which says that wearing masks would only protect those around them.
“I operate on the assumption that you have it, and that I have it asymptomatically and so if we are not operating under that assumption right now we are being naïve,” says infectious disease expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld.
Threlkeld says everyone should not let their guard down -- especially with the holiday season coming up.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to both Reeves and the Mississippi Department of Health for a response. We have not heard back.