Flowers and Wypyski: Mississippi’s lifted mask mandate, a breath of fresh air or a gust ready to blow us into disaster? 


Taylor Wypyski

On Sept. 30, Mississippi became the first state to lift its mask-wearing mandate.

Madison Flowers and Taylor Wypyski

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, Mississippians received less than shocking news from our governor, Tate Reeves. The mandate for masks had been lifted. While many have taken their masks off, we hold our breath. What will this mean for the state? 

Since the beginning of lockdown in March, the state of Mississippi has been constantly spiking and dropping in its number of cases. After a drop, no more severe than any of the previous, Gov. Tate Reeves has lifted the mandate for the state to wear masks when venturing outside. He claims, “We should not use the heavy hand of government more than it is justified.” He went on to say, “We have to tailor our actions to the current threat, and make sure they do not go beyond what is reasonable.” How does it go beyond reason for the government to mandate masks to keep people safe? In our opinion masks should continue to be mandatory until there is no longer potential for people to get sick. 

Case numbers in Mississippi are back on the rise, which does raise the question: Should we take it upon ourselves to follow what experts say and wear a mask out, or should it be the government’s job to enforce these rules to keep those under their guidance safe? Reeves’ decision to lift the mask mandate this early is preposterous. This week the Mississippi Health Department reported the presumed positive COVID-19 cases in Mississippi at an alarming number of 108,139. On Thursday, Oct. 15 alone, 1,322 new cases were announced along with 12 new deaths. Since the pandemic’s beginning, Mississippi has had around 3,152 COVID-19 related deaths with numbers rising daily. When analyzing the statistics of cases in Mississippi, it is very apparent that everyone still should be wearing masks. With numbers this high, it is absolutely absurd to even think about roaming the public without wearing a mask.

Throughout Reeves’s term as Governor, he has been incredibly contradicting regarding COVID-19. Reeves said, “Masks are working to bring down the spread of COVID-19.” He also said “I think people having a mask on makes them more conscious and more aware of their surroundings and they tend to get much less close to people.” On several occasions, Reeves would commend citizens for wearing a mask because daily cases were dropping. If Reeves genuinely feels this way, lifting the mandate was a tremendous step backward. We do not believe that getting people to wear masks to be next to each other is unjustified or goes beyond reason. It should be mandatory to wear a mask inside stores and places of work as well as trying to remain six feet apart to help keep fellow members of our community safe. The governor’s act is complete negligence towards the extensive category of COVID-19 prone people. Reeves’ hypocritical act to satisfy non-maskers is nothing short of unreasonable. Actions such as this pose a grave consequence. While we completely disagree with Reeves’ actions, they aren’t surprising, especially given the callous attitude President Trump has given the virus. 

Trump is constantly defying the advice of COVID-19 experts prolonging America’s much-wanted recovery. Perhaps if our President set a good example, anti-maskers and COVID skeptics would take this pandemic more seriously. Merely days after being sent to Walter Reed, Trump left the hospital to ride around and briefly greet fans. Since the announcement of Trump’s case, he has been seen publicly without a mask attempting to convince citizens to not be afraid of COVID-19 due to his “speedy” recovery. 

President Trump is making a spectacle of a deadly pandemic. Not only did he receive state of the art medical treatment in this unprecedented time, but he is incredibly insulting to the tremendous amount of people who have lost loved ones across the world. In a new world where people are dying alone in their hospital rooms, Trump’s viewpoint is incredibly disheartening. 

All in all, the stipulations behind mask-wearing are more than understandable. Governor Reeves is now a part of a long list of officials who simply refuse to take this pandemic seriously. Mississippi being the first state to lift the mask mandate is an awful example for a state with several preconceived judgments. Despite the horrible example set by our elected leaders, it is up to us to make a clear decision to better impact our future. We have to do our best to social distance, avoid large gatherings and most importantly wear a mask. We absolutely must comply in the midst of this “new normal.”