CLINTON, Tenn. — Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank will not issue a face mask mandate. Frank made the announcement Tuesday following Gov. Bill Lee’s issuance of an executive order on Friday allowing county mayors the option of mandating face masks in their county.
Frank praised Anderson County residents for following Lee’s guidance while also citing an April 27 opinion from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery that states that “‘the Governor’s directives in response to an emergency supersede and preempt any action taken by political subdivisions of the State. Absent an express delegation of power by the Governor, local governmental entities may not take actions that are more restrictive or less restrictive with respect to the subjects addressed in the Governor’s executive orders governing the State’s emergency response to COVID-19.”
“I trust and respect the people of Anderson County and I believe it is through encouraging healthy behaviors, promoting prevention, and praising each other that we achieve the greatest health outcomes,” Frank said.
Anderson County has had a total of 144 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Tennessee Department of Health’s case count update on Monday.
Lee wrote Executive Order No. 54 last week in accordance with Tennessee code 58-2-107, known as the emergency management powers of the Governor. The code states the “governor is authorized to delegate such powers as the governor may deem prudent.”
Executive Order No. 54 notes in Section 2 that this delegation of authority to county mayors and executives is specific only to the issuing of “orders concerning face coverings.”
“l have been greatly distressed by the division caused by the idea of policing our friends, family, and neighbors,” Frank said. “Policy in whatever community crisis – that pits neighbor against neighbor is not good policy. COVID- l9 should not be a law enforcement issue,” Frank said. “I appreciate the trust the Governor has in county mayors and executives. I am thankful for his hard work leading us through this crisis, and especially the work of the Commissioner of Health Dr. Lisa Piercey and our network of local health departments.”