U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty reportedly said last weekend that governments in Tennessee should not require residents to wear a mask to guard themselves against COVID-19, according to the Chattanooga-based WRCB.
Hagerty reportedly said this as he appeared alongside U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-03) in Signal Mountain.
Fleischmann reportedly told WRCB that he agrees with Gov. Bill Lee and thinks local authorities should decide. Hagerty, however, “doesn’t think there should be a mandate at all,” the station reported.
“I think Tennesseans are tired of mandates period. I trust Tennesseans,” Hagerty reportedly said.
“I think they’ll make the right decisions for themselves.”
As The Tennessee Star reported, Lee signed an executive order late last week granting the mayors of 89 counties the authority to issue local face mask mandates. Six Tennessee counties – Sullivan, Knox, Hamilton, Davidson, Madison, and Shelby – have local health departments, and therefore already have the authority to issue mask requirements as needed, Lee’s office explained.
The Metro Nashville and Davidson County Board of Health voted June 26 in favor of requiring residents to wear masks in public places.
Under ordinary circumstances, the remaining 89 counties don’t have the authority to issue such requirements because they don’t operate local health departments.
Lee’s Executive Order 54 grants the mayors of those counties the authority to issue local mask requirements in the event of a significant rise in COVID-19 cases.
The executive order requires counties to include a number of exemptions, such as for children under the age of 12 or people who have trouble breathing because of underlying health conditions.
Lee has strongly encouraged Tennesseans to wear face masks, recently launching a “TN Strong Mask Movement,” but has refrained from issuing a statewide mask mandate.
Williamson County residents must wear face coverings or masks in public to fight COVID-19 starting Tuesday.
County residents will have to wear masks or other coverings in public until at least Aug. 3.
County Mayor Rogers Anderson announced the news Monday in a press release on the Williamson County Government’s Facebook page.
In a separate Facebook post, a video, Anderson said he acted on other people’s advice.
“Many other health care professionals think this is the best approach, as all of you know,” Anderson said, even though he did not specify which health care professionals.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Bill Hagerty” by Bill Hagerty. Background Photo “People Wearing Facemasks” by Studio Incendo. CC BY-SA 2.0.