NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee spoke about the omicron variant during his visit to unveil a new development at Fall Creek Falls on Tuesday.  

Lee said that vaccines were a tool in keeping hospitalizations down from the virus. He said hospitalizations would be a key metric in determining whether to institute a statewide mask mandate in the future.  

The governor said he doesn’t take mandates lightly and only issues emergency declarations after looking at multiple key metrics.  

“I think emergency declarations are a tool we should use only when we have to and there are a lot of things that go into the calculation of when you would do that. The first and foremost would be the number of people that are in the hospital,” Gov. Lee said. “We’re not in a spot where we believe that state of emergency is necessary, but nothing’s off the table, we track it all the time.”

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Although no mask mandates were in sight for Tennessee, individual cities, counties, schools, and businesses are permitted to strongly encourage masks in specific settings.