Masks will now be mandated in Tipton County, county executive Jeff Huffman announced Monday.

The mandate goes into effect Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 11:59 p.m. and will require most everyone over the age of two to wear a mask in public places.

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After much consideration, County Executive Jeff Huffman finds there is substantial data that indicates wearing a cloth or other face covering should be required in certain circumstances in Tipton County.

“(I) recognize that there are many varying opinions on this issue, but (I) believe 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 may remain open and our schools will be able to open in the fall,” Huffman said. “Allowing the current spike in cases to continue jeopardizes our businesses, government and court operations, schools, and way of life; and this simple measure can help to protect our citizens during this unprecedented time.”

Huffman received a joint letter from the CEOs of both Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare and Baptist Memorial Health Care urging a mask mandate to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients.

“Some people don’t believe this is their problem. They may think they are unlikely to catch COVID-19 or if they do, it won’t require hospitalization,” said the letter from Michael Ugwueke of Methodist and Jason Little of Baptist. “The truth is that a strong healthcare system is critical to our community. From joyous occasions such as births to serious conditions like heart attacks and strokes, it is essential hospitals and staff are ready, not overwhelmed.

“Reducing the onslaught of new cases and decreasing the spread of coronavirus is the responsibility of all Tennesseans. We are seeing significant COVID case increases now outside of metropolitan areas, so it is not enough to have a mask mandate in Memphis and other large Tennessee cities. To truly slow this virus, mask mandates must extend to every county we serve, including Tipton County.”

July was the most active month for COVID-19 transmission in Tipton County. Confirmed cases grew by 75.5 percent and active cases by 196.6 percent.

Hospitalizations and deaths were also at an all-time high for July.

“Keeping in mind that Tipton County and its residents are known for caring for one another and setting good examples, especially when it comes to the health and safety of our loved ones and our neighbors, county-wide Executive Order, granted by the authority of the Governor of the State of Tennessee, is hereby enacted requiring citizens to wear masks or face coverings when in public places and social distancing is not possible, with an effective date of Aug. 4 in Tipton County,” Huffman said.

The order is set to expire on Aug. 29, when Gov. Bill Lee’s state of emergency expires.

 

What are the exemptions?

There are several exemptions under the county mandate. These are summarized below, but reading a copy of the order should clarify any issues.

Personal & social exemptions

You do not have to wear a mask at home or in a private vehicle.

You’re exempt if your medical condition makes wearing a mask intolerable.

Masks do not have to be worn when eating and drinking in a restaurant.

You can skip a mask while outside, including exercising, and staying 6 ft. from anyone who does not live with you.

Workplace exemptions 

Masks do not have to be worn in offices that are closed to the public and whose employees can socially distance.

You do not have to wear a mask if it will make your working conditions unsafe, such as working on a ladder or with heavy equipment, when it can hinder communication.

Another exemption is during an activity or transaction where establishing the identity of the customer or employee is important for security. 

What is required of businesses?

Masks do not have to be worn in offices that are closed to the public and whose employees can socially distance.

Patrons will be required to wear face masks as will employees interacting with the public or in common areas where they cannot socially distance.

Employees are still supposed to conduct screening before patrons enter a business, checking temperatures and asking about COVID-19 exposure.

Government buildings, places of worship and voting

Persons present in government facilities, or on government premises, who shall be subject to the rules and regulations of the governmental entity operating the facility or premises.  Persons present in the public areas of all Tipton County government facilities will wear cloth or other face coverings, subject to the age and health restrictions outlined in the order.

Though some churches have already required face coverings, the county is not mandating masks inside places of worship (only strongly encouraging them.)

You do not have to wear a mask while in a polling location, but it is strongly encouraged.

Masks are required in schools

As reported last week, Tipton County Schools will be requiring masks.

“After discussions with our county executive, as well as, updated recommendations from the Health Dept, LeBonheur, and the UT HSC – we agree that masks are an appropriate next step to slow the spread of COVID 19,” Dr. Combs said. 

 

Want to read the order? Click here to download it. 

Keep up with Tipton County’s COVID-19 statistics by visiting our Coronavirus page, which is updated Monday-Friday.