The mask order for Alcorn County and those neighboring counties in Mississippi has been extended for at least a month.
The governor’s office announced the extension late Wednesday with a new expiration date of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3. Based on statistical thresholds, seventy-five of the state’s 82 counties are under the requirement to wear a face covering in public to help curtail the spread of coronavirus.
“We, as Mississippians, have to continue to take this virus seriously,” said Gov. Tate Reeves. “We are continuing to work to get shots in arms and provide vaccines to those who meet the requirements. Please continue to social distance, wear your mask and keep your gatherings small.”
Those familiar preventive measures are particularly important as more transmissible variants appear in the U.S., according to State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs. The doctor said on Tuesday that the state continues to monitor for the U.K., South African and Brazilian variants, which are yet to be detected in Mississippi. The State Department of Health is working toward testing for the variants locally rather than sending samples to the CDC.
“When we do see variants – and I think we will, at some point, see some of these concerning variants – we will plan to do extensive testing around it, like an outbreak sort of investigation,” said Dobbs.
The state reported 791 new positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 26 new deaths. Area counties had no deaths in the day’s report. Magnolia Regional Health Center had 14 patients hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, trending upward a bit after recently dropping below 10.
The county is well down the list of high-incidence counties for the period of Jan. 11 to Jan. 24, ranking 69th among the 82 with 230 new cases during that period and a rate of 622.4 cases per 100,000 population. Two area counties are near the top – Tippah ranked 11th with 236 new cases and a rate of 1,072 cases per 100,000 population, and Tishomingo County ranked 18th with 198 new cases and a rate of 1,021.5 cases per 100,000 population.