Tennessee governor signs executive order allowing local officials to impose mask requirements

Tennessee governor signs executive order allowing local officials to impose mask requirements
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R ) signed an executive order Friday allowing mayors in 89 of the state's 95 counties to issue local mask requirements if they experience a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

The remaining six counties in the state already had the authority to issue mask mandates as needed. Several of the state’s largest counties have imposed a mask requirement.

“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,” Lee said on Twitter.

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The Volunteer State is among those experiencing a surge in cases. On Friday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 1,822 new cases, bringing it to 48,712 total confirmed, a 4 percent increase from the day before.

“This targeted approach ensures we protect both lives and livelihoods and safely keep our economy open in Tennessee,” Lee said. “We encourage every Tennessean across the state to use a face covering or mask, make sure to socially distance and wash hands frequently.”

According to the Tennessean, some local mayors had issues enforcing mask policies before Lee’s executive order.

Last month, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto tried to impose a mask requirement in his jurisdiction but was forced to downgrade the requirement to "strongly encourage" after concerns were raised over his authority. 

"We want people to stay safe as they resume activities," Hutto told the Tennessean.