Wilson County residents will no longer be required to wear face masks in public effective Thursday.
Mayor Randall Hutto’s office announced his decision to end the mandate on Monday, citing a drop in 14-day case averages since it was implemented in mid-July. According to Hutto’s letter to citizens, Wilson County has seen a drop from 40.4 new cases a day on July 17 to 22.1 as of Friday.
“My decision to withdraw the mask mandate does not mean that I do not encourage mask wearing, nor does it impact schools, businesses or long-term care facilities,” Hutto said in a news release. “By taking this next step, I am requesting that citizens continue these practices without having a mandate in place. I will continue to watch the number of COVID-19 cases in our county and encourage others to practice frequent hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks when in public places. We will get through this pandemic by continuing to work together and support one another.”
As of Saturday, the county has seen 3,519 COVID-19 cases and 45 deaths. Statewide, those numbers are 192,995 and 2,377.
Gov. Bill Lee granted Hutto and Tennessee’s other county mayors the authority to enforce mask mandates in their communities through an executive order also set to expire Thursday. The governor’s office told the Democrat that Lee will discuss whether to extend that order at a 3 p.m. press briefing Tuesday.
Hutto was also unavailable for comment on whether he would be willing to implement another mask mandate if cases trend upward again.
“The compliance of Wilson Countians has significantly impacted the decrease of COVID-19 cases in our community,” he said in the letter. “After reviewing the downward trends of the past months, I am hopeful that the number of cases in Wilson County will continue to decrease.”