Mississippi governor to require masks in 13 counties, put limits on businesses

Mississippi governor to require masks in 13 counties, put limits on businesses
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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Thursday issued an executive order for 13 counties in the state to require face masks and put limits on businesses as coronavirus cases climb.

The order will also ban indoor social gatherings larger than 10 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 20 people, among other restrictions on businesses.

“Mississippi is in a fight for our lives," Reeves said at a press conference, adding that the state is “in the middle of a spike.”

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The criteria the 13 counties met were having 200 new cases within the past 14 days or having had an average of 500 cases per 100,000 residents over that same time span. Mississippi is among several southern states currently experiencing outbreaks after reopening businesses. The state has 82 counties.

As of Thursday, Mississippi health officials have confirmed 33,591 cases of coronavirus and 1,204 deaths. On Wednesday, 703 people in the state tested positive for the virus and 16 people were reported dead. 

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs told reporters Thursday morning that the five largest medical centers in Mississippi have no intensive care unit bed space for new patients as cases continue to increase in the state.

According to the Mississippi Department of Health, 686 people are currently hospitalized for the disease. 

Reeves said the order should be taken as a "wake-up call" for residents. 

"To my fellow Mississippians, please take this as an alarm," Reeves said.

The spike in cases in Mississippi comes as there has been a rise in cases nationwide with some states, such as Arizona, Florida and Texas, being hit particularly hard after reopening their economies.