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Mississippi governor stands firm against mandating masks in schools

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves made it clear he wants schools to remain open, despite the increasing number of COVID cases.

He also made it clear that he will not issue a mask mandate, pointing out what he is doing to quell the Delta variant that’s causing thousands of new cases each day in Mississippi.

“In the last month, 89 percent of our hospitalizations and 87 percent of our deaths have occurred amongst the unvaccinated,” Reeves said.

In a news conference, Reeves asked Mississippians to get the vaccine. Only about 38 percent of Mississippians are vaccinated and Reeves says the result is causing hospitals to overflow and full ICU beds.

Reeves said he wants schools to remain open.

“I want every school open every day possible this year, and I am willing to give local governments every tool they need to do it,” said Reeves.

The governor acknowledged some schools may have to go virtual for a while, like Hernando High. More than 20,000 students across the state are in quarantine and an eighth-grader died in Smith County. Reeves said it’s ok with him if students wear masks, but he will not order a mask mandate.

“I will not issue mandate after mandate,” he said.

State health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said last week 70,000 Mississippians got vaccinated and yet, the state’s case count keeps rising by the thousands.

Reeves said the federal government is helping with field hospitals and testing.

Reeves and Dobbs stressed the importance of monoclonal antibody treatment for anybody who tests positive for COVID, saying it could keep you out of the hospital.

“If you get COVID, we want you to talk with your doctor about monoclonal antibodies,” Dobbs said.

The treatments are supposed to be free and are offered in 179 locations in the state, according to Dobbs.

The bottom line, Reeves is counting on Mississippians to get vaccinated, which he believes if that happens, the state can turn the corner and COVID hospitalizations will drop.

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