NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Metro Public Health Director outlined the reasons he is not in favor of reinstating a mask mandate in the county.

In the letter, Dr. Gill Wright said the Metro Public Health Department continues to follow recommendations by the CDC, which does not require mask mandates. The CDC strongly encourages the wearing of masks indoors.

“MPHD unequivocally agrees. Masks should be worn indoors in all public spaces in which people mingle in close quarters for more than a few minutes,” Wright wrote in the letter.

Wright wrote the letter on Thursday after a Board of Health meeting was held on Sept. 9. The board had a lively discussion prompted by Metro Council’s adoption on Sept. 7 of a resolution encouraging the health department to issue a county-wide indoor mask mandate.

Wright said Nashville Mayor John Cooper has issued a mask mandate for all employees and visitors in Metro buildings. The Davidson County Board of Education also issued an indoor mask mandate for all students and staff. Many businesses have followed suit by requiring employees and customers to show proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID test. Venues, including Bridgestone Arena, have implemented the same precautions to attend events.

“MPHD strongly supports businesses that have chosen to implement these protections,” Wright wrote. “Any citizen who enters an establishment that does not require the wearing of masks should weigh carefully the risk they would be taking to enter.”

Wright said the mask mandate in place last year was in a different time.

“Prior to the vaccine, masks and distancing were the only public health interventions available to us, which led to public health orders that included a county-wide mask mandate and capacity restrictions,” Wright wrote in the letter. “MPHD phased out all restrictions shortly after an appropriate medical intervention – the vaccines – became widely available.”

Wright said in the letter that Nashville has not reached the point where a mask mandate might be issued.

“We have all seen stories of hospitals stretched to the breaking point or even overrun by an influx of COVID cases. We are not to that point in Davidson County, but it is one condition that could require action. In such a case it would be a temporary measure intended to relieve pressure on the health care system. But we are not there,” Wright wrote.

“A consideration for the effectiveness of a mask mandate on hospital stress in a county that serves as a regional health care center is that many of the COVID cases in Davidson County hospitals would not be touched by such a mandate; they are from surrounding counties. The inconsistency of COVID interventions across political jurisdictions has plagued the response in this country from the beginning, and continues to affect what any local entity can accomplish by itself.”

Wright said 53.7% of Davidson County residents are fully vaccinated as of Thursday.

“I encourage everyone to wear a mask indoors when close contact with others cannot be avoided,” Wright wrote. “I further, and emphatically so, encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. We can do better. And when we do, we can put this nightmare behind us.”

Click to read Wright’s letter.

 

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