Tipton County’s mask mandate, which went into effect on Dec. 8, 2020, has officially expired.

Originally set to expire on Jan. 31, county executive Jeff Huffman extended it through the end of February.

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In December Huffman cited the critical point of ICU bed capacity and the current spike in cases as contributing factors for the implementation of the mandate. In a press release, he said he recognizes that there are many varying opinions on this issue, but believes that asking Tipton Countians to wear a face covering in indoor public places, and in outdoor public places where distancing is not possible, is a necessary safety measure in order that our local businesses and schools may remain open. 

Huffman was encouraged to reissue the mandate by the CEOs of the Baptist, Methodist, Regional One and St. Francis hospital systems.

Parker Harris, CEO, Baptist Memorial Hospital—Tipton said, “We saw the effectiveness of wearing masks and social distancing in the early summer when new cases declined by 56% and hospitalizations fell by 38 percent in just six weeks after Tennesseans widely practiced these important safety precautions. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, it remains of the utmost importance that we continue to do these things to keep our community and neighbors safe and healthy.”

The county previously had a mask mandate from Aug. 4 to Sept. 30.

On Monday active cases were down to 99 and have been as low as 77 last week.

Though January and February were the deadliest months for the pandemic yet, doubling the deaths from March to December, the increase in cases had declined dramatically. Last week there were only 54 new cases, and only 399 total cases in February. The week the mandate was issued there were 371 new cases.

In schools there are currently 14 active cases. The week the mandate was issued the average daily active cases was 79.3.