Gov. Reeves speaks at a news conference on Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi. Mississippi Public Broadcasting/Pool

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said the statewide mask mandate will end on Wednesday given that the numbers for average new Covid-19 cases have declined.

“It has been a great few weeks for Covid-19 numbers,” Reeves said. “We’ve cut our average number of new cases in half, we’ve cut hospitalizations by two thirds of what they once were.��� 

Covid-19-related hospitalizations declined in the state to below 600 patients, from approximately 1,250 patients at the peak of the pandemic in July, according to the governor. The number of patients in intensive care unit beds has also declined to 138 from 337 at its peak.

Reeves said that while the mask mandate was lifted, he would still be wearing a mask and said he expected Mississippians to do the same.

“It is the smart, prudent, and wise thing to do,” he said. “I believe this is the right decision to make at this time. I believe that this will protect my fellow Mississippians and give us the opportunity should things not continue to improve or stay relatively flat, it gives us more opportunity in the future.”

Reeves said a new limited executive order would go into effect immediately to prevent “rampant Covid-19 transmission.” 

The new order keeps limitations on large gatherings, bars, parties and stadiums. Indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 20 people, outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 100 people.

Social distancing rules would also remain and mask requirements will still be in place at schools, the governor said.

Reeves also urged schools that were closed to reopen.

“It can be done safely,” he said. Reeves also said a small increase in K-12 activities would be allowed.

Some more context: Thirty of Mississippi’s 82 counties have reported an increase in cases from the previous two weeks, Reeves said. 

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said at the news conference that while there was general decline in most counties, some counties have seen “modest increases.”

“Jones, Lamar and Lee counties saw a 5% increase in cases over the previous week,” Dobbs said.  

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