Ten additional counties placed under mask mandate, stricter guidelines

Ten Mississippi counties have been added to the governor’s executive order, which implements a mask mandate and additional social distancing guidelines in hotspot areas. 

The new counties added to the order include Bolivar, Covington, Forrest, Humphreys, Panola, Sharkey, Simpson, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Walthall. 

The guidelines will also remain in place for the original 13 counties in the order: 

Claiborne, DeSoto, Grenada, Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Quitman, Rankin, Sunflower, Washington, and Wayne

“COVID-19 is spreading and killing in our state. It’s not a hypothetical—it is happening,” said Governor Reeves. “Today, I’ve extended our executive orders to mitigate the threat, adding 10 counties to the list of those with stricter measures in place.”

An outline of the order can be seen below: 

For all businesses:

  • All businesses are expected to take every step necessary to implement the regulations, orders, and guidance from the Mississippi State Department of Health and CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and encouraging sick employees to stay home.
  • All employees will be screened daily at the beginning of their shifts, including asking whether they have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days and have they had a fever in the last 48 hours.
  • Based on their duties and responsibilities, employees who are unable to maintain at least 6 feet distance from others must wear a face-covering throughout their shift, such as a face mask. Their face coverings must be cleaned or replaced daily.
  • Hand sanitizer must be provided to all employees, which can include a hand rub or soap.

For retail businesses (in addition to measures above):

  • Face coverings must be provided to all employees who come in direct contact with customers. Employees are required to wear that face-covering throughout their shift and clean or replace daily.
  • All customers must wear a face covering while inside the retail business.
  • Hand sanitizer must be placed at all entrances, in or near bathrooms, and at cashier stations.
  • Retail businesses are expected to make all efforts to maintain a 6-foot distance between customers at all times.
  • Carts, baskets, and other similar surfaces touched by customers must be sanitized after each use. Other high-touch areas must be sanitized at least once every two hours.

For people out in public:

  • Everyone must wear face coverings when at public gatherings or in a shopping environment.
  • People must maintain a 6-foot distance between themselves and others.
  • Further limits on social gatherings: down to no more than 10 indoors and 20 outdoors.

In addition to the stricter guidelines in these 23 counties, Governor Reeves also extended the statewide ‘Safe Return’ order to keep guidelines in place for all businesses and social gatherings in Mississippi. This action did not come as a surprise after the governor and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs discussed the likely extension of the orders on Friday. 

Both orders will remain in effect until at least August 3rd at 8 a.m. 

As the virus continues to spread in Mississippi and across the country, the governor posted a lengthy message on social media urging everyone to wear a mask.