Mississippi warns against ‘fake’ letter claiming state mask mandate over

Health officials in Mississippi are warning about fake notices falsely alerting residents that the state’s mandate requiring masks be worn in public was rescinded.

Officials with the state Emergency Management Agency wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that letters purporting to be from Gov. Tate Reeves (R) were circulating on social media platforms. The letters’ text ordered local businesses to take down signs directing customers to wear masks indoors.

“A ‘letter’ claiming to be from the governor’s office is circulating on social media. The letter is a FAKE. Stay up to date with the latest executive orders posted on the Secretary of State’s website. And any major changes will be addressed in a press conference and an updated executive order,” the agency wrote.

Reeves has in fact extended the state’s mask mandate multiple times, with the latest extension lasting through the end of September. Retail and other businesses in the state are currently allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, while all customers and employees must wear masks and are required to follow social distancing rules.

The governor has lamented the political divide over mask-wearing in recent months, and in July urged state residents who disagreed with his policies to avoid shaming those who follow procedures.

“It does no one any good for you to shame someone because they’re wearing a mask,” Reeves said, according to a local news station. “It also does no one any good for you to shame someone because they’re not wearing a mask because I can tell you those who are actually skeptical … while I personally disagree with that, if you try to shame them, it’s going to make their resolve even stronger.”

The state has struggled to bring its rate of new coronavirus infections down further after it fell from a high point in late July. It has since remained at levels higher than the state was seeing in the spring.

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