Governor Lee allows county officials to continue to enforce mask mandates if they choose


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As the COVID-19 case count climbs in Tennessee, the mask debate continues. In a media briefing Tuesday, Governor Lee announced he will continue to allow county leaders to make their own rules regarding face coverings through the end of this year.

For some people, its simple. They believe if you wear a mask, you save lives. But with case numbers going up –even in counties where masks are required — others aren’t as convinced masks are really working.

Back in July, Governor Lee gave 89 county leaders the power to make their own mask mandate rules. Some mayors enforced mask mandates, some did not.

Loudon county mayor Buddy Bradshaw did not enforce a mask mandate and he says he still has no plans to.

“I think we’re going to hold the course for the time being and of course I’m not saying never say never but I think if you look at our industry base and our essential businesses that are here, the mask, and I still feel like those are an infringement on rights, but I think risking any type of shutdown hurts our small businesses as well,” Bradshaw said.

Knox County did enforce a mandate but not everybody is on board, like nurse practitioner Debi Stafford.

“I think the mask mandate is horrible for the county. We’ve only really known about this virus for less than a year. I’m of the opinion that we can’t get away from it unless we stay locked up in our homes forever and that’s no way of living,” Stafford said.

For now, nothing changes. County leaders will still be in charge of mask mandates.

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