MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The mayor of Maury County stands by his decision not to enact a mask mandate amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
During Thursday’s COVID-19 press conference, Metro Nashville Coronavirus Task Force Chair Dr. Alex Jahangir showed the daily new cases per hundred thousand people for Davidson, Montgomery, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson counties. He said every county saw an improvement after reinstating its mask mandate, which had a positive impact on Davidson County as well.
He then showed the daily new cases in Maury County, which does not have a mask mandate.
“During the same time frame, the daily new cases per 100,000 continues to increase for our neighbors in Maury County,” said Dr. Jahangir, adding that Maury County ranked 5th in the state for virus activity. “We’re not where we need to be, but this shows if we remain vigilant, we will get there soon.”
Maury County Mayor Aandy Ogles said most of the increased cases were not spreading throughout the community.
“When you look at the spikes that we’ve had in Maury County, they’ve been related to nursing home cases and not the general population,” Ogles told News 2. “Then you also look at the latest information from the University of Tennessee data center, our spread rate is right there with Williamson County. Ours is 1.1 and theirs is 1.09.”
Ogles also said he believes masks alone will not work and certain types of masks do not offer enough protection. The mayor said people should take personal responsibility to wear them while also practicing social distancing.
“I social distance, I wash my hands, I use hand sanitizer. If anyone would have gotten it, it could have and should have been me, but I’m very, very disciplined about social distancing,” said Mayor Ogles. “I don’t pretend or think this [mask] is an invisible shield and I have the force and keep the virus at bay like Luke Skywalker or something, that’s not reality.”
Mayor Ogles also said there were several Tennessee counties without mask mandates that did not have an increased spread rate. He added that he doesn’t believe the mask mandates were legal based on the state constitution.
“I’m a firm believer the mask mandate as its currently written is unconstitutional. If you want a mask mandate in the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee legislature needs to convene and address that, the same way they would address seat belt law in the same way they have addressed smoking in public or in restaurants,” Mayor Ogles said.
According to the state health department, the average number of new cases in Maury County over the past 14 days was 55, while it was 35 for the previous 14 days.