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COVID-19 mask order relaxed

Governor Tate Reeves allowed the statewide mask mandate to expire as of 5 p.m. Thursday. However Mississippians are still required to wear face masks on school campuses and in some businesses.

Under Executive Order No. 1525, signed Wednesday, Reeves maintains a limit on the size of group gatherings where social distancing is not possible to no more than 100 people outdoors or 20 indoors. The rule does not apply to religious entities, voting precincts or classrooms.

Although face masks are now encouraged instead of required in public spaces, they are still mandatory in school buildings. Exceptions to the need for a face mask include when communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or during fitness activities.

There are also still restrictions on businesses, including requiring public facing employees to wear a face mask when it is not possible to social distance, making hand sanitizer available to all customers at points of entry, sending sick employees home and limiting the number of customers or visitors to 75 percent capacity.

Restaurants and bars are still required to provide, and ensure the use of, a cloth mask to every employee who comes into contact with a customer while on duty. Customers still have to be screened for illness prior to entry, and party sizes are limited to 10 people per table. Self service buffets are still prohibited.

Reception halls and conference centers can’t exceed more than 50 percent of seating capacity. Auditoriums and movie theaters have to limit ticket sales to 50 percent of maximum seating capacity.

Businesses that provide personal care services like barber shops or tattoo parlors are still required to have employees wear face coverings at work and wash their hands between each set of customers served. Customers are still supposed wear face coverings inside personal care service businesses.

Executive Order 1525 will be in effect until Wednesday, Nov. 11. The order repealed Executive Orders 1492 and 1517.

There have been 99,558 COVID-19 cases in the state of which 2,999 deaths were reported as of Oct. 1. Within Pearl River County 925 COVID-19 cases and 53 deaths have been reported.

According to data from the Mississippi State Department of Health, 31,141 Black Mississippians have had COVID-19, resulting in 1,235 deaths. There have been 28,228 COVID-19 cases among white Mississippians, resulting in 1,201 deaths.

Broken down by age group: in the zero to four year old age group there have been 2,093 cases and one death; in the five to 17 group, there have been 8,749 cases; in the 18 to 24 age group there have been 14,186 cases and 11 deaths; in the 25 to 39 age group there have been 22,778 cases and 61 deaths; in the 40-49 age group there have been 14,763 cases and 127 deaths; in the 50-64 age group there have been 20,190 cases and 553 deaths; in the 65 plus age group there have been 16,458 cases and 2,245 deaths.

MSDH estimates that 89,737 people have recovered from COVID-19 as of Oct. 1.