With the lifting of the statewide mask mandate instituted on August 4th, the daily average of COVID-19 cases has increased at an alarming rate, overwhelming Mississippi’s hospital systems, resulting in a struggle to provide emergency care for patients, and the transferring of patients out of state. In order to protect the integrity of our healthcare system, the Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA), supports Mississippi physicians’ call for a statewide mask mandate requiring masks in all public spaces.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted healthcare delivery at every level. Our state’s healthcare system cannot continue to bear the overwhelming strain of the outbreak at its current state. The present stress on the healthcare system affects the ability of patients to get emergency care they desperately need,” said Dr. Claude Brunson, MSMA Executive Director.
Science and evidence have proven to be our best defenses against a health crisis such as this. We must be diligent in continuing to practice the measures that have aided us before in flattening the curve and stopping the spread of this deadly virus. When the initial mask mandate was lifted on September 30th, daily COVID-19 numbers were around 500 cases per day. The daily average has since increased to a current approximation of 1,200 new cases per day. Based on this data alone, evidence shows that masks and face coverings significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new evidence supporting this advice. Researchers analyzed coronavirus infection rates in Kansas following a statewide mask mandate. They found that counties that chose to enforce the mandate saw their cases decrease. Counties that chose to opt-out saw their cases continue to rise.
“When leaders fail to lead, then we often see a poor performance from those who are attempting to follow,” said Dr. Mark Horne, MSMA President. “The anti-mask, anti-personal distancing, anti-anything to slow the spread of the disease is an article of faith. And faith is not subject to fact,” Horne said.
Since the onset of COVID-19, physicians and healthcare workers have stood on the front lines, providing care for patients, and public trust, with expertise based on scientific knowledge. With the holiday season and winter weather approaching, we are certain that our state’s healthcare system cannot sustain the trajectory of the pandemic in its current state. To combat the devastating effects of COVID-19, we must act immediately, and in the best interest of the health of all Mississippians, by reissuing a statewide mask mandate through the remainder of the year.