Did the governor of Mississippi sign an executive order abolishing statewide mask requirements? No, that's not true: The "formal letter" announcing the alleged order is fake, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and a spokesperson for the governor.
The claim appeared in a post (archived here) published by Facebook on September 26, 2020. The post appeared alongside text that read, "And just like that - Mississippi is done. No more masks starting October 1." It included a copy of a purported letter from the governor's office. The letter opened:
This is a formal letter to all of the Residents and Business in Mississippi, the beginning of October 2020 the statewide mask requirements will be abolished. Meaning that it will be no longer required to wear them in the state of Mississippi, NO BUSINESS can refuse your entry with out a mask on.
This is what the post looked like at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Sep 28 13:51:41 2020 UTC)
The letter continued:
All business are hereby ordered to take down all facemaks must be worn on or in they establishments. (Signs)
This Executive Order has been Signed and Sealed this 17th Day of September in the Year of 2020
Its incorrect grammar is a strong clue that the "letter" is not real. Also, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and a spokesperson for the governor have both stated that the document is fake. On its Twitter page, the agency wrote:
A "letter" claiming to be from the governor's office is circulating on social media. The letter is a FAKE.
You can see its full tweet here:
A "letter" claiming to be from the governor's office is circulating on social media. The letter is FAKE. Find all executive orders posted on the Secretary of State's website. And any major changes will be addressed in a press conference and an executive order. pic.twitter.com/az6KDbzvmG-- msema (@MSEMA) September 27, 2020
Earlier this month, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed an executive order that extended a statewide mask mandate through the end of September. Face coverings are required for all Mississippians in schools, businesses and indoor public spaces. They are also required in outdoor public spaces, where steady social distancing is not possible.
Lead Stories reached out to the governor's office to ask about the alleged letter. Renae Eze, a spokesperson the governor, responded:
The letter circulating on social media claiming to be the Governor is an absolute fake. As we have throughout the entire pandemic, our office has made it a priority to share accurate, up-to-date information through our televised press briefings and official executive orders so Mississippians can be well-informed and included in the process.
Eze encouraged people to check out the governor's website for all official updates and orders related to the state's COVID-19 response.