Grainger County is the latest to implement a mask mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Grainger County Mayor’s executive order is as follows:
“WHEREAS, a global pandemic of COVID-19 has reached the shores of the United States of America and spread to all parts of the country including Grainger County, Tennessee;
WHEREAS, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on March 12, 2020 declared a State of Emergency to deploy additional resources to combat the spread of the virus and followed that declaration with numerous executive orders directing Tennesseans how to prevent spreading the virus and how to conduct business, attend school, church and other daily activities while protecting ourselves, our friends and our families from getting sick;
WHEREAS, the Tennessee Department of Health and other national health experts say the most effective methods of preventing the spread of the virus are to avoid large crowds, stay home when we are sick, keep six feet apart in public from non-family members, wash your hands frequently and wear facial coverings or masks when in public;
WHEREAS, cases of COVID-19 in Grainger County, Tennessee have risen significantly during the past six weeks and have reached all areas of the community;
WHEREAS, wearing a cloth face covering is a simple step that each Tennessean in Grainger County can take to slow the spread of the virus, reducing the need for more drastic and disruptive measures for the economy and job market;
WHEREAS, on July 31, 2020 Governor Lee extended the term of Executive Order 54 giving county mayors the authority to require residents and visitors to their counties to wear cloth facial coverings or masks in public;
Whereas, after consultation with other leaders within the County, Grainger County Health Department, Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Management Services and other local front-line employees the County Mayor finds there is a consensus that the wearing of facial coverings or mask should be required in certain circumstances, and that such a requirement should take effect as soon as possible;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Grainger County Mayor Mike Byrd, pursuant to authority delegated by Executive Orders #54, #55 and #63 the laws of the State of Tennessee declare the following order:
Effective immediately, all residents and visitors of Grainger County, Tennessee shall wear cloth facial coverings or masks when in public spaces or businesses especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain with the following exceptions recommended by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and included in Executive Order 54:
1) Within one’s residence or automobile, unless transporting others for Hire;
2) By a child twelve (12) years of age or younger;
3) By individuals who have trouble due to an underlying health condition or another bona fide medical or health-related reason;
4) By individuals who are incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth facial covering without assistance;
5) While eating or drinking;
6) While outdoors, unless the person cannot substantially maintain appropriate social distancing from others outside the person’s family members;
7) While working under conditions where appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s family is substantially maintained;
8) In situations in which wearing a face covering poses a safety or security risk;
9) While in a house of worship unless required by that house of worship, but wearing a face covering in such locations is strongly encouraged; or
10) While in a voting site for the purpose of voting or administering an election, but wearing a facial covering at voting locations is strongly encouraged.
This order shall remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2020, unless otherwise modified or withdrawn by future Orders or by the State of Tennessee.”
Grainger County now joins at least a dozen in the state with a mask mandate in place.
Only 12 states in the nation do not have a statewide mask mandate as of November 23, 2020. Five of them are in the southeast including Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina. Of these 12 states, mask mandates are only in place in select counties.