CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Tenn. — The Mayor of Claiborne County, Joe Brooks, announced a mask mandate on Friday, starting Nov. 24.
"I've literally had hundreds of folks call me — parents, teachers, residents in the county — that are really alarmed by our new spike in cases and how quickly our number of active cases are rising," Mayor Brooks said. "I wanted to make Claiborne County citizens feel a little safer as they go out."
All residents, visitors and employees of Claiborne County will need to wear facial coverings or masks when in all county-owned buildings and public space, officials said.
"I just want to push the importance of that mask piece as far as lowering the spread of COVID-19," Mayor Brooks said. "We're not going to know until we try.
While some people in Claiborne County are upset, Mayor Brooks said most have been appreciative. That includes Claiborne County resident Dennis Spencer.
"I'm very happy about it. I mean, Kentucky has had [mask mandates] for the longest time," Spencer said. "I wear them constantly."
There are exceptions to the mandate, listed below:
- Within a person's own home or automobile, unless transporting others for hire
- Children 12 years old or younger
- People who have trouble due to an underlying health condition or another medical reason
- People who incapacitated or unable to remove the facial covering without assistance
- While eating or drinking
- While outdoors unless the person cannot maintain appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person's family members
- While working under conditions where appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person's family is maintained
- In situations in which wearing a face-covering poses a security or safety risk
- While in a house of worship, unless required by that house of worship, but wearing a face-covering is strongly encouraged
- While in a voting site for the purpose of voting or administering an election, but wearing a facial covering at voting locations is strongly encouraged
"There are times when being in a leadership role is hard," Brooks said. "No situation is any more difficult to navigate through than our current environment when looking at what our county is going through with regards to COVID-19."
He said that he decided to start the mask mandate after seeing the number of COVID-19 cases in the county rise. He said that over the last several days, case counts rose to 123 active cases, an increase of 11 cases from Thursday.