Gov. Tate Reeves announced that mask mandates for Mississippi counties will be lifted and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity starting on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Most counties have been under a mandate, including Lauderdale, Neshoba, Newton, Kemper and Clarke Counties.
Even though Reeves is rolling back the mandates, the City of Meridian is still under a mask order.
Additionally, the Mississippi State Department of Health has issued public health guidance for residents at least 65 years old or who are at least 16 years old and have a serious chronic medical condition.
The guidance says that these individuals should avoid all social gatherings outside the household and any in-person mass gathering, including religious ceremonies and sporting events, until they are fully protected by an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are fully effective two weeks after the second dose, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is fully effective 28 days after the one dose that a person receives.
Reeves is also allowing businesses to operative at full capacity starting Wednesday at 5 p.m. Restaurants, bars, gyms and retail businesses were previously required to operate at a capacity of no greater than 75%.
Reeves’ new order does require masks in K-12 schools, though. It also limits ticketed seating at indoor arenas to 50% capacity.
At these arenas, indoor club areas will be limited to 75% capacity, and suites will be limited to 75% capacity.
Reeves and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs also spoke about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a Tuesday press conference. The vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration authorized for emergency use on Saturday, is given in one dose.
Dobbs said that Mississippi has been allocated 24,000 doses of the J&J vaccine this week. He said that on Tuesday, the state added new drive-thru vaccination appointments for the new vaccine.
When booking a drive-thru vaccination appointment, individuals can choose to receive the J&J vaccine, if they wish.
COVID-19 case and death numbers
Mississippi reported on Tuesday 301 new cases of the coronavirus and 44 additional COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 295,295 cases and 6,724 deaths.
Lauderdale County reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the county’s total to 6,836 cases. The county reported one additional death, which occurred between Jan. 4 and Feb. 24 and was identified from death certificate reports. 226 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported in the county since March 2020.
Mississippi has been vaccinating its residents. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported on Tuesday that 409,892 people had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi. Of those people, 227,961 had received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 case and death numbers for local counties are listed below.
Clarke County: no new cases; 1,693 total cases since March 2020. No additional deaths; 71 total deaths since March 2020.
Newton County: three new cases; 2,299 total cases. No additional deaths; 52 total deaths since March 2020.
Kemper County: no new cases; 902 total cases. No additional deaths; 23 total deaths since March 2020.
Neshoba County: ten new cases; 3,817 total cases. One additional death, which occurred between Jan. 4 and Feb. 24 and was identified from death certificate reports; 169 total deaths since March 2020.
MSDH presumed that 278,162 people in Mississippi had recovered from COVID-19 as of March 1. The department also reported that there are 64 ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term-care facilities.