Gov. Tate Reeves announced a new executive order during a press conference Thursday afternoon that will require the residents of 13 counties, including DeSoto, to wear face masks while in shopping centers or at public gatherings. The order will go into effect early next week.
The order will also increase restrictions on social gatherings banning those with more than 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors.
"Make no mistake," Reeves said. "The risk is present everywhere. The virus is in all our communities."
When asked whether people defying the mask mandate would face citations or fines, Gov. Reeves did not answer and discouraged law enforcement officers from doing so. Reeves said he thinks an officer's time is better spent breaking up large gatherings.
The criteria that led to the 13 counties being chosen was that they had seen 200 new cases or had an average of 500 cases per 100,000 residents within the last two weeks.
The order applies to the following counties:
DeSoto, Hinds, Jackson, Harrison, Rankin, Washington, Sunflower, Grenads, Madison, Claiborne, Jefferson, Wayne and Quitman.
The Mississippi Department of Health reported 703 new coronavirus cases and 16 new deaths on Thursday. 686 Mississippians are currently hospitalized across the state due to COVID-19. DeSoto County currently has 1,818 confirmed cases and 18 deaths.