RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — In Rutherford County, mayors are now explaining why they cannot mandate face masks in public, despite a recent surge in cases of COVID-19.
Mayor offices across the county have received countless phone calls and messages asking them to follow Nashville’s lead and make masks mandatory.
But Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron said it’s not that easy.
County leaders said they do not have the authority to mandate masks or facial coverings in public, only in government buildings.
What they can do is share messages about safety and recommend everyone follow the public health guidelines.
There is concern about the recent rise in cases in Rutherford County.
As of Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported more than 2,500 cases, an 18% increase over the last week and the third most in the state.
Officials said the numbers are a reflection of these communities not being ready for business as usual and everyone must stay vigilant in order to stop the spread.
“If you look at the tests that are coming back positive, we’re not talking about a lot of people that are in the elderly age, the older age like me that are testing positive. We’re really talking about the people that are 16 to 30 that are testing positive, that are living their lives, and that is something as I talk to people I try to continually push across to say we need to social distance and we need to make sure wherever possible you wear masks,” explained Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland.
Face masks are available at both Rutherford County health department locations in Smyrna and Murfreesboro, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
COVID-19 in Tennessee
(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )