A face mask is now required inside all Bradley County government buildings.The announcement came over social media less than 24 hours after County Mayor D. Gary Davis said he would not issue a public …
A face mask is now required inside all Bradley County government buildings.
The announcement came over social media less than 24 hours after County Mayor D. Gary Davis said he would not issue a public mask mandate during the county commission meeting, adding that they would be “strongly recommended” in all public settings and inside county offices.
A post on the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page says, “A face mask must be worn when entering any Bradley County Office, effective immediately beginning Tuesday, July 7.”
BCSO Public Information Officer Taylor Woodruff confirmed the order came directly from Mayor Davis’ office. Woodruff said signs have been posted at the entrances of all county buildings and visitors will be required to wear a face mask at the Justice Center and any county office.
Mayor Davis has said he believes in mask-wearing as a health and safety measure, but would stop short of mandating them to the public. On Wednesday morning, he said a public mandate is “unenforceable.”
“We’re not going to have cops on the street stopping people for not wearing masks,” he said. “But we are going to turn people away from county offices if they’re not wearing masks, that’s the negative side of it. … We’re going to ask people to wear masks inside our offices, just as many businesses have.”
Davis said county officials will be asked to wear a mask “when interacting with the public,” but was unsure if commissioners would be held to the same rule as visitors to county offices. He added that he wore a mask on his own accord during the commission meeting, taking it off when he wasn’t near others, and putting it back on as he left.
Gov. Bill Lee called out Bradley County and its rapid growth of cases during a press conference last week, pointing to the area as a hotspot for coronavirus cases.
He pointed to Rutherford, Macon, Sevier and Bradley counties as areas where cases were quickly climbing.
“If you are a resident of one of these counties, or any county in Tennessee, I encourage you to make time this week to get a test at your local health department. Stay home whenever possible. Don’t put our steps two steps backward by refusing to wear a mask, refusing to social distance, or refusing to pay attention to something as simple as washing your hands,” Lee said.
Bradley County added 177 new cases of COVID-19 last week, according to the Tennessee Department of Health, and is on track to add at least that many this week with 120 new cases reported as of Wednesday.
Davis said he didn’t like the word “mandate” and pointed out that it deters some people from following the health and safety recommendations.
“We need to be following all of the recommendations, not just some and not just mask-wearing,” he said. “The ones dwelling on just the masks are missing the point.”
He emphasized that he wants Bradley County residents to “abide by all guidelines,” including social distancing, mask-wearing, using hand sanitizer and frequently washing hands.
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