Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto held a press conference Wednesday afternoon in which he announced that he will not issue a mandatory mask order for the county, five days after Gov. Bill Lee gave county mayors the authority to do that.

“We do not want to divide people in Wilson County,” Hutto said at the news conference. “We are all in unknown territory. We are not going to mandate masks.

"We thought long and hard about this decision. We want you to decide to do what is right. Even if it's an inconvenience for you, you can't go wrong doing what's right for others."

Hutto did strongly encourage everyone to wear a mask.

Two weeks ago, 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.

Community leaders scheduled to join the press conference included representatives from Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital; mayors Bernie Ash, Mike Jennings and Ed Hagerty; Wilson County Schools Director Dr. Donna Wright; Cumberland University President Dr. Paul Stumb; Lebanon Special School District Director Scott Benson; Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan; Lebanon Chief of Police Mike Justice; Mt. Juliet Chief of Police James Hambrick; Watertown Chief of Police Bill Laney; chambers of commerce representatives; emergency services personnel; and Wilson County Health Department Director Tim Diffenderfer.

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