Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto signed an executive order on Friday requiring residents to wear face masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The order took effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday and remain in place until midnight on Aug. 3.

“This decision has not been made in haste nor was it a decision to be made by the Wilson County Commission,” Hutto said in a press release announcing the order. “The authority has been given solely to county mayors by Governor Lee.”

There are several exceptions to Hutto’s mandate, including children ages 12 and under, those with underlying medical or physical conditions complicated by masks or those carrying out strenuous physical activity.

In addition, homes, churches, polling stations, court proceedings, private transportation and the Wilson County Court Clerk’s Office are not affected by the order.

COVID-19 cases in Wilson County numbered 1,601, with 19 deaths as of Sunday. The 14-day average of new cases is approximately 39.5.

“As we navigate this pandemic, we realize that questions are inevitable,” Hutto said. “Often, we have a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to a situation before digesting all the information. I would urge you to read the attached executive order in its entirety.”

Hutto’s full executive order is available online at www.wilsoncountytn.gov. He said the school board’s decision not to mandate masks because is not impacted because the county mandate expires on Aug. 3.

“Everyone in Wilson County has a duty to be responsible and do their part to slow the spread of this virus,” Hutto said. “Healthcare professionals nation-wide have recommended that wearing a face mask, along with other recommended guidelines, is the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 … this action is necessary to ensure not only everyone’s safety but also that local businesses can remain open and schools can reopen this fall.”

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