Medical association calls for statewide mask mandate

A Mississippi physician advocacy group is calling for the statewide mask mandate to be reinstated.

“With the lifting of the statewide mask mandate instituted on Aug. 4, the daily average of COVID-19 cases has increased at an alarming rate, overwhelming Mississippi’s hospital systems,” The Mississippi State Medical Association said in a news release this week.

“With the holiday season and winter weather approaching, we are certain that our state’s healthcare system cannot sustain the trajectory of the pandemic in its current state,” the news release said. “To combat the devastating effects of COVID-19, we must act immediately, and in the best interest of the health of all Mississippians, by reissuing a statewide mask mandate through the remainder of the year.”

Half of the state’s 82 counties, including Lauderdale and Neshoba, are under a mask mandate. In these counties, people must wear a mask when they are indoors and interacting with the public, but cannot social distance. Indoor social gatherings in the counties must be limited to 10 people, and outdoor social gatherings must be limited to 50.

On Nov. 16, Meridian Mayor Percy Bland extended the city's mask mandate until the end of the year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted healthcare delivery at every level,” Dr. Claude Brunson, the executive director of the MSMA, said in the news release. “Our state’s healthcare system cannot continue to bear the overwhelming strain of the outbreak at its current state.”

1,005 new cases

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported on Friday 1,005 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 148,387 cases and 3,769 deaths.

The department reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 in Lauderdale County, bringing the county’s total to 3425 cases reported since March. No new COVID-19 related deaths were reported; 145 deaths have been reported in the county since March.

MSDH reported no new cases in Newton County, which has had a total of 1,042 cases since March. No new deaths were reported; the county has had 29 COVID-19 related deaths since March.

In Kemper County, four new cases were reported; 425 cases have been reported since March. No new deaths were reported in the county; 18 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported since March.

Clarke County reported two new cases, bringing the total to 893 cases. No new deaths were reported; the county has had 53 COVID-19 related deaths since March.

In Neshoba County, seven new cases were reported, bringing the county’s total to 2,196 cases. Since March, 118 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported in the county.

The Department of Health presumes 121,637 people have recovered from COVID-19. The department also reported that there are 193 ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term-care facilities.

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