Mayor, hospital officials address need for mask mandate in Rutherford County

Coronavirus

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Rutherford County is one of the latest to reinstate its mask mandate.

The move comes just about a month after the Mayor discontinued the mandate, but with numbers hitting a record high over the weekend he believes this is the best decision.

“This was a hard decision because I know there’s mixed feelings, there is a no-win for a mayor to make these decisions,” Mayor Bill Ketron told News 2.

He had to take the politics out of it, he said.

“We got to get a handle on this we were identified by the White House as a hot spot one of the hot spots in the whole country.”

Over the last 14 days, Rutherford County has averaged more than 112 new cases reported per day, for the 14 days prior is was just over 74, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Since early September, the 7-day average has doubled.

“They continue to spike. I don’t know if it’s the cool weather or whatever, but yesterday we closed, our superintendent close Stewarts Creek High School completely and then today Rockvale High School was closed completely,” the Mayor explained.

He hopes reinforcing the mask mandate along with practicing other protective measures will slow the spread of the virus and help keep schools and businesses open and hospitals functioning at normal capacity.

“We’ve got six on ventilators and I think nine in the COVID-19 ICU unit so the numbers are beginning to spike,” said Ketron. 

The Chief Medical Officer at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital said the recently saw the highest number of COVID-19 positive patients yet.

“The COVID-19 numbers are indeed very much up. In recent weeks we’ve actually had the highest number of COVID-19 confirmed patients hospitalized,” Dr. Julian Yang told News 2. 

The CMO praises the Mayor’s move, saying the additional volume in patients is significant and that they want to be ready for what may come this winter.

“Fortunately, we are probably in a better position here at Rutherford given the new constriction. We added 72 beds this summer and so we are in the process of staffing up that capacity,” he explained. 

With eight deaths in Rutherford County in the last week, the Mayor said it’s important people wear the mask and follow additional protective measures to slow the spread of the virus. 

“We want to try to keep as many citizens alive as we possibly can,” he stated. 

The mask reinstatement for Rutherford County goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night and will remain until further notice.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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