Governor’s orders do not relax local COVID-19 restrictions

Published 12:14 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2021

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NATCHEZ — Governor Tate Reeves signed Executive Order 1549 Tuesday lessening restrictions meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, local COVID-19 mandates remain in effect.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said Adams County’s mandate requires area businesses to enforce mask-wearing and public events to be approved by the Adams County Emergency Operations Center.

The mandate does not expire until March 31 unless local officials remove or extend it, Bradford said.

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The governor’s order, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. on March 3 and lasts until March 31, does not override local restrictions.

On Monday, Bradford recommended to the Adams County Board of Supervisors that they not relax the local mandate until around half of Adams County residents have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Wednesday, Mississippi State Department of Health data showed over 7,000 Adams County residents have been vaccinated.

“Right now, we don’t have a large enough number of people vaccinated,” Bradford said. “That is a low number to our population and we have a lot of elderly. We’re hoping we get in the 10,000 range before we start loosening restrictions. The testing numbers are down because there are not a lot of people getting tested and we still aren’t holding large events that could be super spreaders. COVID is not gone. It is still here. We just have to stay diligent.”

Bradford said the EOC would reevaluate local COVID-19 data in their next meeting next, after which he would present the Board of Supervisors with their recommendation.

Bradford said Gov. Reeves was specific in saying that local restrictions can be stricter but not less than what the state does as a whole.

In a Tuesday press conference, Reeves said the state’s case numbers and hospitalization numbers have plummeted “to the point that no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate.”

Reeves replaced the state’s orders with recommendations that everyone continue listening to the state’s healthcare advisors “for the best possible wisdom regarding how you can personally stem any risk of catching COVID.”

The only rules that remain in the governor’s executive order are a capacity limit of 50 percent on indoor arenas and in K-12 schools.

Seating for K-12 extracurricular activities at outdoor venues is now set at 50 percent capacity with a 25 percent maximum seating capacity indoors.

Mississippians are still encouraged, though not ordered, to wear a face covering and practice social distancing while K-12 schools still require a mask where social distancing is not possible.