Without authority to issue mandate, Oak Ridge Mayor pleads for mask usage

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Oak Ridge City Council unanimously passed a resolution in July asking Gov. Bill Lee to give city governments more authority to enact and enforce their own safety measures

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Mayor of Oak Ridge is pleading for people in the city to wear masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement posted to the City of Oak Ridge website and social media channels, Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch strongly urged all citizens to wear masks, wash hands frequently, practice social distancing and follow other CDC guidelines as cases continue to rise across the country.

Gooch said without the authority from the State of Tennessee to enforce COVID-19 recommendations, the number of confirmed and active COVID cases in the city, “continues to increase at an alarming rate.”

The statement also cites a Vanderbilt University study that shows a correlation between facemask usage and lower death rates.

The Oak Ridge City Council unanimously passed a resolution on July 21 asking Governor Bill Lee to give city governments more authority to enact and enforce their own safety measures, but that request has not been approved.

Gov. Lee did sign an executive order on July 3 giving 89 county leaders the power to make their own mask mandate rules but many county leaders have not issued mask mandates or allowed cities in their jurisdiction to make and enforce their own safety measures.

“According to the Governor’s Executive Order, both the Anderson County Mayor and Roane County Executive must approve mandatory mask requirements in their counties, or authorize city governments, including Oak Ridge, to make that determination. To date, that approval has not been forthcoming.”

Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch

He also urged local businesses to encourage their customers to comply with preventative measures.

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