Gov. Tate Reeves put an end to all pandemic guidelines outside of K-12 schools, banking on heavily depressed case counts and increasing vaccinations to protect Mississippians this summer.
“MS covid numbers continue to remain steady. 189 hospitalizations—down from 1444. 55 ICU patients – down from 337. Only 28 patients on the ventilator,” the governor wrote on social media. “Why? Because the vaccines really work. We have done 1,694,332 shots, and 949,833 Mississippians have received at least one dose. 788,078 have been fully vaccinated. And very, very few serious side effects have occurred for the vast majority.”
Reeves’ decision to formally end the executive orders that have guided mask usage, the scale of large gatherings, and business operations during the ongoing pandemic comes over a year and a month after Reeves’ first March 2020 orders. In that time, the state has seen 7,199 confirmed fatalities from COVID-19 out of 311,900 total detected cases.
One restriction remains: indoor masking requirements for the state’s public schools. Reeves defended the decision by highlighting the importance of in-person classes, something school outbreaks have derailed since the state partially returned students to class in Fall.
“Getting our kids back in school last August was one of the most important decision(s) of the pandemic. Even so—our class of 2021 has not been afforded a normal senior year. I want all of them to attend their graduation & I want everyone in their family to be able to join them!” Reeves wrote.
The governor’s decision also addresses growing calls for limiting masking to indoor venues, due to a shifting understanding of the pandemic’s primary transmission method. Airborne transmission relies on proper ventilation more than physical distancing. Outdoor transmission, then, is far less likely than indoor transmission, where masks are most useful.
“Effective today at 5pm, ALL capacity restrictions—indoor and outdoor—have been lifted. You can attend graduation. And masks are not necessary for anyone at outdoor venues on K-12 campuses,” Reeves finished.
While scientific data strongly support Reeves’ enthusiasm for the vaccine’s effectiveness, the state is a long way away from full vaccination, with fewer than 1 million out of Mississippi’s total population of 3 million having received a shot. That gap is closing at an increasingly sluggish rate, with new vaccinations set to drop for a fourth consecutive week.