Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson has clarified and/or corrected part of a face covering requirement he imposed on the county this past week.
As The Tennessee Star reported, Williamson County residents will have to wear masks or other coverings in public until at least August 3 to guard against COVID-19.
“The Mayor’s declaration included several exceptions to the face covering requirement. As implementation began, it became clear that clarification and/or correction of two of the exceptions is needed, and the mayor has issued an addendum to the declaration for that purpose,” according to a statement Anderson released Thursday.
“First, the addendum clarifies that the exception for children applies to children 12 and under, rather than children under 12. Second, the addendum clarifies that the exception for houses of worship also applies to religious ceremonies (including such ceremonies as weddings and funerals) and activities attendant thereto that occur at locations other than churches.”
Anderson announced the mandate 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.
“I am not a doctor. I am listening to those people who suggest that we do this to help slow this virus down.”
Anderson, in his press release, also said he consulted with each of the mayors of the county’s various municipalities as well as the school superintendents for the county’s two school districts.
But county officials offered no evidence from studies that support the assertion that cloth or face mask mandates limit the spread of COVID-19. Nor did they provide evidence to support the claim that cases, hospitalizations, or deaths are increasing in the county.
The Tennessee Star asked county spokeswoman Diane Giddens if Anderson and other county officials could point to any studies that confirm that cloth or surgical masks stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The decision to require face coverings is based on recommendations from federal and state health officials, including the CDC and the State of Tennessee Department of Health,” Giddens said.
Officials at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on their website, recommend face cloth coverings for events and other gatherings, especially when physical distancing is difficult. The TDH’s website, meanwhile, refers to CDC guidelines for businesses, restaurants, and bars.
On July 3, Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order 54 that grants county mayors in 89 counties the authority to make citizens wear face coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Per the governor’s order, violation is a Class A misdemeanor,” Giddens said when The Star asked about enforcement mechanisms.
Critics claim the governor’s executive order and Anderson’s executive order requiring face masks are unconstitutional and will not survive court challenges.
In a column for The Star last month, board certified emergency physician Simone Gold said the scientific usefulness of a mask is “aggressively overstated.”
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