Mississippi governor says he's issuing mask mandate because he wants to see college football in the fall

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a mask mandate for his state on Tuesday. And he cited his desire to watch college football in the fall as a reason why.

Reeves’ order is designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state. And with the SEC delaying the season until late September and going to a conference-only schedule in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Reeves made it clear that he wanted to watch games later this year.

Reeves is not the first politician or public figure to cite college football as a reason for wearing a mask. Alabama coach Nick Saban even filmed a public service announcement for the school to promote wearing a mask so that the football season could happen. Saban’s PSA came in May, over two months before Reeves’ declaration.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a mask mandate for her state on July 15. Mississippi became the 34th state to have a mask mandate with Reeves’ announcement. That means that 16 states don’t require face coverings to be worn in all indoor public spaces. The wearing of a mask has become a politically polarized act despite widespread evidence that mask use can significantly stop the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Mississippi’s number of positive coronavirus cases has steadily grown since July 15. The state currently has over 62,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 1,700 people in Mississippi have died because of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, the SEC said that it was tweaking practice schedules for its teams because of coronavirus. Fall practices for SEC teams can officially begin on Aug. 17 with no pad walk-through practices allowed before that start date. The adjustment was made to give players more days off and more calendar flexibility ahead of the season’s delayed start in case a coronavirus outbreak would cause a team to have to stop practices.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves expresses his concern over the growing number of people testing positive with coronavirus statewide, during a press briefing with members of the state's COVID-19 response team, Monday, July 20, 2020, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a mask mandate on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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