NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Sumner, Wilson and Williamson county mayors have reinstated mask mandates after an increase in COVID-19 cases through the end of the year.
The county mayor in all of those counties made the announcement on Thursday. All are effective at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.
The executive order in all three counties will initially run through Oct.30, the date Gov. Bill Lee's current executive order giving county mayors the authority to institute a mask mandate ends. Lee has indicated he will issue another executive order giving county mayors permission to institute the mask mandate through the end of the calendar year.
All three county mayors indicated they would extend the mandate through Dec. 31 when Lee signs the executive order.
Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson said Thursday morning he made the decision after consultation with mayors of the various municipalities in Williamson County, the school superintendents for the two school districts within the county as well as physicians and members of the health care community, Anderson determined it is appropriate to require cloth or other face coverings in certain circumstances in Williamson County to slow the spread of COVID-19.
After Gov. Bill Lee authorized county mayors to require face coverings within their jurisdictions, Anderson issued a face covering requirement for the months of July and August due to escalating numbers of COVID-19 cases in Williamson County at that time.
The county was successful in reopening businesses, opening schools for in-person learning and providing government services while reducing the spread of COVID-19 through this and other health and safety measures. Once the numbers were reduced, the face covering mandate was allowed to expire on Aug. 29.
However, in the past 30 days, numbers have significantly increased, putting the continued operation of businesses, schools and governmental services in jeopardy.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 709 active cases, including 921 new reported cases in the last 14 days.
“No one likes the fact that it is necessary to reinstitute mask mandate in our county. Unfortunately, the numbers can’t be ignored,” Anderson said.
The mandate will be effective Saturday, Oct. 24 at 12:01 a.m. and continues through 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 30, which the governor’s executive order expires. The governor’s office has announced that he anticipates extending the authority through the end of the calendar year. If Lee issues the anticipated extension, Anderson intends to extend the mask mandate for Williamson County through the end of the calendar year.
“I appreciate the Governor giving us the tools to address this issue without forcing a one-size-fits-all state-wide order,” Anderson said. “I believe local government is best positioned to make these decisions, even when they are difficult. At the end of the day, I believe this order in in the best interest of our community.”
Anderson recognizes that there are many varying opinions on this issue, but believes this mandate is a necessary safety measure for local businesses and schools to remain open in the coming months.
To download the county’s COVID-19 toolkit, visit the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency’s website. A Williamson County COVID-19 hotline number is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for any questions or concerns. The number is 615-595-4880.
Sumner County has 456 active cases on Wednesday and has had 577 new cases reported in the past 14 days.
"In recent weeks, we have experienced a substantial increase in the number of active COVID-19 cases in Sumner and surrounding counties," Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt said in a news release. "At the urging of local hospital administrators, health professionals and our local health department, I have decided that it is in the best interest for the safety of our citizens to again issue an Executive Order to wear face coverings in public places in Sumner County."
Sumner Regional Medical Center CEO Susan Peach said her hospital was thankful the mandate was reinstated.
"Our hospitals are seeing an increase in positive cases and therefore admissions and use of our critical care beds," Peach said in an email. "We are approaching a tipping point in volume. Requiring masks is a proven strategy that reduces transmission of COVID-19."
Wilson County Mayor Randal Hutto said he consulted with the three mayors of the three Wilson County cities, chambers of commerces, school superintendents, the director of WEMA, Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital and a group of Middle Tennessee county mayors, who were all in concurrence with the decision.
"Wilson County is made up of extraordinary individuals that put others before themselves in the most difficult of circumstances," Hutto said in a news release. "By continuing to use preventative measures, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect one another."
The Tennessee Department of Health reported 449 active COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and 592 cases in the last 14 days in Wilson County.
Tennessee counties with and without mask mandates
|County||Mask Mandate (yes, no)|