Claiborne county mayor mandates masks

Published 5:01 am Saturday, November 21, 2020

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Claiborne mayor Joe Brooks issued a mandate Friday evening requiring all county residents to wear a face covering while in public spaces or inside any county-owned buildings. The mandate will run from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, at which time Brooks will reevaluate the issue.

The Executive Order comes after a sharp rise within the last few days in the number of those testing positive for COVID-19. There are exceptions to the mandate, which follow:

  • Within a person’s own home or automobile, unless transporting others for hire
  • Children 12 years old or younger
  • People who have trouble due to an underlying health condition or another medical reason
  • People who are incapacitated or unable to remove the facial covering without assistance
  • While eating or drinking
  • While outdoors unless the person cannot maintain appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s family members
  • While working under conditions where appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s family is maintained
  • In situations in which wearing a face-covering poses a security or safety risk
  • While in a house of worship, unless required by that house of worship, but wearing a face-covering is strongly encouraged
  • While in a voting site for the purpose of voting or administering an election, but wearing a facial covering at voting locations is strongly encouraged

Brooks chose to publish the news release on his Claiborne County Mayor Facebook page Friday evening, which drew immediate responses both in favor and against the action. A substantial portion of those commenting used strong language to express their appreciation for the mandate or opposition against the measure.

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The release is reprinted here, in its entirety.

Citizens, being County Mayor is one of the absolute best jobs. I count it as a privilege to be able to represent Claiborne County on the state level and national level while advocating for new opportunities for our county. Most every day presents itself with good opportunities that I am excited to face head-on. However, there are times when being in a leadership role is hard. No situation is any more difficult to navigate through then our current environment when looking at what our county is going through with regards to COVID-19.

As most of you know, early on I reported daily numbers of both positive and negative test results. While doing this I advocated on the state level with the Tennessee Department of Health to change the reporting. I, and several of my other County Mayors were effective as the state started to report the total number of active cases in each county rather than just the total number of positive cases over that of the total number of negative cases. Under that system of reporting, our positive cases were exploding as that number grew daily while the negative case numbers were not being added to for fourteen days. In my opinion the numbers were skewed and a new system of reporting needed to be adopted to present a more accurate picture of what was happening.

Now that we have daily reporting of active cases I feel we have a more accurate number of individuals here in Claiborne County that are currently dealing with COVID-19. In the beginning, our numbers were relatively low and I, like most, felt Claiborne County was in a good place with regards to the virus. However, our daily numbers are painting a rather grim picture; our cases are exploding. Over the last several days our case counts have risen to 123 active cases, which is up 11 over that of yesterday. And, unfortunately, we are predicted to see a continued rise in our numbers.

Being County Mayor certainly carries a great deal of responsibility, none being more important than the health and wellbeing of some 33,000 residents; parents, children, grandchildren, grandparents, friends, neighbors, church members, students, teachers, public sector employees, private sector employees and the list goes on and on. You are all ultimately my responsibility and being the leader of Claiborne County is not something anyone should take for granted when looking at the health and wellbeing of each of our citizens. To that end, difficult and unpopular decisions have to be made to ensure the safety of every Claiborne Countian is paramount to the success of our county.

I am issuing a county-wide mask mandate beginning on Tuesday, November 24th running through Thursday, December 31st. I will be reevaluating our case numbers daily while remaining in contact with all offices within the county to ensure we are doing the absolute best we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 here in Claiborne County.