Supervisors voted 3-2 to rescind the countywide mask mandate effective immediately at its meeting Monday.
District 5 Supervisor and Board President Joe Williams and District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer were the two opposing votes, while District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery, District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller voted to end the mandate.
While the county will not regulate masks, department heads, businesses and business owners still reserve the right to enforce mask-wearing.
The city of Starkville lifted its citywide mask mandate midnight Friday.
Montgomery, who said he will not get vaccinated himself, proposed the ordinance be rescinded due to decreasing case numbers and more people getting vaccines. According to Mississippi State Department of Health’s website, 14,615 Oktibbeha residents, or about 29 percent of the county’s population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I think we’ve let this mask divide us as a country….,” Montgomery said. “If everybody is going to do it, then I think it works, but (they do not). I think it’s time to take these masks off.”
Williams said he did not believe now was the time for county residents to stop wearing masks and should wait until a large percentage of the population has been fully vaccinated.
“We have a long way to go until we get COVID-19 under control,” Williams said. “Only 30 percent of the United States have been vaccinated. That leaves a whole 70 percent vulnerable.”