Tate Reeves said lifting mask mandate removes ‘heavy hand of government’ but will require personal responsibility

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves lifted the statewide face mask mandate Wednesday saying that the state has “come out on the other side” of the deadly summer wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“We should not use the heavy hand of government more than is justified,” Reeves said. “I want to be clear: I still believe that masks work. I think the facts and the data in our state and across the country bear that out.”

Reeves said while Mississippi’s coronavirus cases have dropped significantly since the August 4 mandate went into effect, he hopes Mississippians will still use common sense and wear masks, even without the mandate.

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“I still plan to wear one, and I expect that most people in our state will still wear them often,” he said. “It is the smart, it is the prudent and it is the wise thing to do.

“But there is a difference between something being wise and something being a government mandate,” Reeves said. “We have to reserve that for the most critical, most dangerous moments. As I’ve said throughout as a general rule, guidelines are better than mandates.”

Reeves said face mask usage should be up to the people to make good decisions.

“We need to trust the people of this country to look after themselves and to make wise decisions,” he said. “Personal responsibility is what this government was founded upon. It’s what makes America unique, and it is why we are the greatest country in the history of mankind. And it’s also why we all love this United States of America.”

Reeves’ decision seemed to be in direct opposition to state medical leaders.

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs urged Mississippians to continue to wear masks regardless of the mandate being lifted.

“We should ALL continue to mask up,” he wrote on social media following Reeves’ news conference announcing the mandate being lifted. “We’ve come a long way.”

Dr. Anita Henderson, a Hattiesburg pediatrician and president-elect of the Mississippi chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote on social media that Mississippians needed to continue to wear masks shortly after the governor’s announcement along with a graphic showing the drop in cases tied to mask mandates.

“Tate Reeves issued a statewide mask mandate in early August and it worked!” Henderson wrote. “He removed it today. Please Mississippi continue to #maskupmississippi #maskuphburg so our schools can stay open and MS can stay safe.”