Metro Health director not in favor of reinstating mask mandate


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Public Health Director Dr. Gill Wright has outlined reasons why he is not in favor of reinstating a mask mandate for Davidson County.

In a letter, Dr. Wright said the Metro Public Health Department continues to follow recommendations by the CDC. Currently, the CDC does not require a mask mandate, but does strongly encourage wearing masks in indoor settings.

“MPHD unequivocally agrees. Masks should be worn in all public spaces in which people mingle in close quarters for more than a few minutes,” Wright said in the letter.

According to the letter, Nashville Mayor John Cooper issued a mask mandate for all employees and visitors in Metro buildings. Immediately after the announcement, the Davidson County Board of Education issued an indoor mask mandate for all students and staff. Many businesses have also followed suit by requiring employees and customers to show proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test. Venues, including Bridgestone Arena, have implemented the same precautions to attend events. The health department strongly supports businesses that have chosen to implement these guidelines.

“Any citizen who enters an establishment that does not require the wearing of masks should weigh carefully the risk they would be taking to enter,” Wright said.

Prior to COVID-19 vaccines being approved, Wright says masks and social distancing were the only public health interventions available to the health department, which then led to public health orders that included a county-wide mask mandate and capacity restrictions.

“MPHD phased out all restrictions shortly after an appropriate medical intervention – the vaccines – became widely available.

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According to Wright, Nashville has not yet reached the point where a mask mandate would be necessary.

“We have all seen stories of hospitals stretched to the breaking point or even overrun by an influx of COVID cases. We are not to that point in Davidson County, but it is one condition that could require action. In such a case it would be a temporary measure intended to relieve pressure on the health care system. But we are not there,” Wright said.

As of the writing of the letter on Thursday, 53.7 percent of Davidson County residents were fully vaccinated.

“I encourage everyone to wear a mask indoors when close contact with others cannot be avoided. I further, and emphatically so, encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. We can do better. And when we do, we can put this nightmare behind us,” Wright said.

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