Trousdale County does not plan to issue a mandate to wear face masks amid growing cases of COVID-19.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers made that statement via email in response to a request from The Vidette on Monday.

“I do not plan to mandate masks at this time. The vast majority of our cases are in the Trousdale Turner Correctional Complex, not in the community at large. Most of our businesses have been proactive in requiring customers to wear masks and social distance, and our restaurants closed their dining areas before Gov. (Bill) Lee required it. We will keep an eye on the number of cases and will adjust our approach if necessary,” Chambers said.

As of Tuesday, there were 1,498 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Trousdale County. Of those, 1,375 had been among inmates at Hartsville’s prison, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Sumner County issued a mandate that was to take effect Tuesday, joining a number of counties in Tennessee doing so. Wilson County initially declared a mandate in late June but downgraded it to an encouragement.

Sumner County’s order exempts those age 12 or younger, who have an underlying health condition that makes breathing difficult while wearing a mask, and who are outdoors as long as social distancing is maintained. The order also does not apply to those in houses of worship or voting sites, although people are encouraged to wear masks in those locations.

On July 3, Gov. Lee signed Executive Order 54, granting county mayors in 89 counties the authority to issue local mask requirements. The order remains in effect through Aug. 3.

“While our densely populated urban areas continue to have the highest COVID-19 case rates, our local governments expressed a need for greater flexibility in addressing a rise in cases and that includes setting stronger expectations around masks,” Gov. Lee said in a press statement. “This targeted approach ensures we protect both lives and livelihoods and safely keep our economy open in Tennessee. We encourage every Tennessean across the state to use a face covering or mask, make sure to socially distance and wash hands frequently.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Staff reports

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