Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi announced on Tuesday that the state will be lifting its COVID-19 lockdowns and reopening businesses on Wednesday, March 3.
“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules,” said the Republican governor on Twitter. “Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”
Since the start of the year, Mississippi’s COVID case numbers have been on a rapid decline alongside a rise in coronavirus vaccinations. While new cases peaked at the start of January with a daily high of 3,000, the state recorded only 199 new cases on March 1, indicating the effectiveness of the state’s vaccination rollout.
Mississippi has recorded nearly 300,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in 2020, resulting in close to 7,000 deaths. The state’s total population is three million residents.
Reeves’ lifting of the lockdowns follows Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s action to lift Texas’ state-imposed mask mandates and lockdowns, making Mississippi the second state in the Union to do so.
Reeves expressed dismay with the lockdowns, describing them as having “interfered with people’s lives,” but emphasized their necessity as “the only possible intervention” prior to the availability of the vaccine.
"We've been among the 4 or 5 most open states throughout this crisis, and we’ve been rewarded for it with more jobs and economic recovery," he said, per the Daily Wire. "That's not because what we put in place was a light burden. It's only because the rest of the country was so harsh."
Reeves stated that the lockdowns had needed to “end at the earliest possible moment” and that “This is that moment for Mississippi."