NASHVILLE (WSMV) - It hasn't been without controversy that some lawmakers are critical of face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Governor Lee announced earlier this week that North Carolina-based sock company Renfro would make 400,000 masks.
Democratic Representative John Ray Clemmons is concerned the material those masks are made with will not be enough to protect Tennesseans.
"It needs to provide masks that are actually going to have some impacts and protect the well-being of Tennesseans. This administration continues to take questionable actions or lack of actions rather in the face of a pandemic," said Rep. Clemmons.
Dean Flener, with Unified Command of TEMA, sent News4 the following statement:
Neither this mask, nor any cloth face mask, is intended for medical use. Cloth face coverings are meant 'to slow the spread of the virus,' by interfering with the release of saliva droplets that could contain viral material. Therefore cloth face coverings are to help prevent possibly 'transmitting the virus to others,' as the CDC indicates in its recommendations on cloth coverings.
The Renfro masks are made with a terry polyester material with Lycra blend tie straps. The material also allows for easier breathing by the user, which is also CDC recommendation. The masks are washable, reusable, and treated with Silvadur, a non-toxic silver antimicrobial good for 25 industrial washes. The mask is contoured for fit and to provide less movement and gaping at the nose bridge and eyes.
Flener says in the effort to provide cloth masks to Tennesseans, UCG is purchasing 5 million cloth face masks from Renfro. The first shipment sent 400,000 to all 95 counties in Tennessee.
According to TEMA, another 600,000 masks will be delivered from Renfro this coming weekend, and then 1 million will be sent weekly until the state reaches 5 million.
Flener says UCG will use the relief through the federal Coronovirus Relief Fund to receive reimbursement funding for purchasing the masks.
Masks sent to county health departments is reportedly only the beginning of the state's effort and more distribution plans will be later announced.
On Wednesday, the Metro Health Department handed out all 25,000 masks provided by the state.