Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto will extend the county’s face covering and mask mandate in Wilson County after Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order last Friday gave county mayors the authority to do so through Saturday, Aug. 29.
Hutto, whose initial mask mandate came July 17 and expired last Monday, said he believed the mandate has shown positive results in Wilson County, noting the county has seen a decline in the 14-day average number of new cases in the county.
“We do see a decline and we’re excited about that. We hope it continues,” Hutto said.
Hutto said he would like to see the percentage of positive tests below 5 percent and less than 10 new cases a day as the county continues to grapple with surging COVID-19 cases.
“We see those as two good measuring sticks for where we’re at,” he said. “We feel like most people are wearing the masks and it’s helping to make a difference,” Hutto said.
At the time of Hutto’s initial mandate, Wilson County had 999 reported cases of COVID-19, which increased to 1,412 cases in nine days. As of Aug. 3, Wilson County has 2,064 reported cases of COVID-19.
Under the executive order, mayors cannot mandate facial coverings or masks in certain situations and areas, including: within a person’s residence or automobile, unless transporting others for hire; for a child 12 years or younger; for someone who has trouble breathing due to an underlying health condition or bona fide medial or health-related reason; for someone incapacitated or unable to remove the face covering without assistance; while eating or drinking; while outdoors, unless the person cannot maintain appropriate social distancing from others outside of the household; while working where social distancing from others outside of the household is substantially maintained; where the mask presents a safety or security risk; while in a house of worship unless required by that house of worship; and while in a voting site for the purpose of voting or administering an election.
At the end of June, Hutto issued a mandatory mask order and declared a State of Emergency in the county after virus-related deaths reportedly nearly doubled in three weeks. A few hours after issuing that order, Hutto revised the mask order to a strong recommendation because at that time he did not have the authority to make masks mandatory.
“We know that wearing a mask, diligent in hygiene and social distancing when possible are the best tools we have to prevent the community spread of the virus,” said Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital Chief Medical Officer Adam Huggins, suggesting wearing a mask would ultimately save countless lives.