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We are perplexed just like Dr. Dobbs

In a report by the Associated Press late Friday, Mississippi’s health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he was concerned, worried and perplexed.

In recent days, the number of new COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed back above 1,000 per day and coincide almost two weeks to the day since Gov. Tate Reeves allowed the state’s mask mandate to expire.

In those 14 days since the mandate expired — since Gov. Reeves quivered in his role as the state’s leader — the number of new cases in the state have started to rise once again. It is no coincidence. 

But despite the lack of an executive order from the governor’s mansion, the public’s aversion to the simple act of wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible is admittedly perplexing to a medical expert like Dobbs.

“Why we would broadly abandon something that is so simple — even easy, and effective — just because there is not an executive order, it has perplexed me and I’m frankly quite disappointed,” Dobbs said on a video call with reporters Friday.

The lack of a state mask mandate is starting to impact local numbers. Even though the city of Vicksburg and Warren County Supervisors have ordered the local mask mandates remain in place — and are set to extend them into December — our numbers of new cases have crept higher because of confusion from state leaders.

People feel since the governor does not think masks are needed then they question why local orders are necessary. It is that lack of leadership from the top that has failed much of the state’s response to this pandemic from the very beginning. If it were not for local leaders taking charge and making the hard decisions Reeves wanted to avoid, the pandemic in Vicksburg, Warren County and the rest of the state would have been far worse.

Now, Dobbs said, state leaders must evaluate the need to retreat and restore some of the restrictions that were first put in place to control the virus’ first surge.

And this surge may very well be worse than the first. Dobbs said he is worried that with the impending arrival of cold and flu season, along with holiday gatherings, the potential for a spike far worse than we have experienced thus far is likely.

So, again, why would the state’s top leader remove the very tool that had worked to lower the numbers in the waning weeks of the summer surge?

Just like Dobbs, we are perplexed.