Bob Rial

Dickson County Mayor Bob Rial

Dickson County Mayor Bob Rial said he won’t require county residents to wear masks in public at this time.

“At this point, I am not issuing a mandate for wearing a mask in public," Rial said in an email Monday afternoon, three days after Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order granting county mayors the authority to require masks for COVID-19 precautions.

“I do have a concern of the practical enforceability of such a mandate,” Rial said. “I strongly encourage each individual to take the personal responsibility of protecting themselves and the community when in public.”

City of Dickson Mayor Don Weiss noted that the executive order applies only to county mayors, not city mayors.

Rial said the local COVID-19 response group that is being coordinated by county Emergency Management Agency Director Rob Fisher will meet Thursday, July 9, to discuss the recent increase in cases and the role of masks.

Many county officials and staff members haven’t been wearing masks in the county offices and meeting rooms in Charlotte. Some staff members and visitors to the county offices have worn masks.

The county’s total number of confirmed or probable cases as of Monday, July 6, was 212, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. There were 99 recoveries, 3,869 negative tests and zero deaths.

Lee said that he had been contacted by many local government officials asking for the authority to mandate mask-wearing.

“Mask mandates are a hot topic. Face coverings are one of the more effective tools,” Lee said at a press conference last week. “My approach is more targeted to local counties as they request clarity on the authority they have to put in place stricter mask standards. That is the direction we are looking at.”

At the press conference last week, Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said that the state had recorded more than 1,800 positive cases of COVID-19, a one-day record for the state.

“This (growing cases) is not due to more testing. We have a growing problem in Tennessee, including rural areas,” Piercey said. “Now, at least half of cases are from an unknown source, or community transmission, meaning from people who are out and about trying to get back to normal. Please listen carefully. This is not the time to get back to normal. We are all experiencing what we call quarantine fatigue, but I guarantee you this virus is not getting tired. We must double down on our efforts to flatten the curve.”

Lee also signed an executive order last week to provide limited liability protection to healthcare workers. He said he will soon call a special session of the Legislature to address business liability.

Main Street Media of Tennessee reporter Jason Reynolds contributed information to this story.

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