Despite no statewide mask mandate, many still see need for face coverings in public

South Mississippi residents react to spike in COVID-19 cases

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Health officials said Monday that Mississippi could be headed into a higher phase of the pandemic after a recent spike in cases and the loosening of many mask and crowd restrictions.

Opinions among Gulf Coast residents remain divided, with some in support of wearing masks in public and others who are not.

At Biloxi’s Ward 5 meeting on Monday evening, precautions were still in place to keep people safe, including social distancing and masks.

The City of Biloxi is one of the cities on the Coast that is still enforcing a mask mandate in municipal buildings, despite the statewide executive order that required them being expired.

Part of Biloxi’s decision to enforce masks is due to COVID numbers that are once again going up.

“I’m in the (at-risk) age category. Mandate or no mandate, I will wear my mask,” said Biloxi resident Judy Taijeron.

Despite the loosened restrictions, some people still support more face coverings in public.

“We’re not required to wear a mask. I keep it on,” Biloxi councilman Paul Tisdale said. “You don’t know. If you have (COVID-19), then who are you infecting unknowingly?"

As the nation continues to feel the impacts of the pandemic, some South Mississippi residents feel people should continue to follow safety measures whether they are required to or not.

“I think people have to take a personal responsibility when they are out and about in the public,” Taijeron said.

Some residents want to see more safety guidelines followed and, for those scared of getting infected, to stay away from big gatherings like Cruisin' the Coast.

“I skipped the block party this year. That’s the first time I’ve done that in probably 10 years,” Tisdale said.

The hope is to get the outbreak under control soon before it’s too late.

Gulfport resident James Jolly said,

“What will we do with a second wave or a third wave? Or if they don’t really get a vaccine and we have to go on like this for a very long time?” questioned Gulfport resident James Jolly.

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