Overton County will continue the trend in the Upper Cumberland by not requiring mask wearing in public.
Overton County Executive Ben Danner said the decision for a mask requirement is beyond the jurisdiction of a county executive.
“I am not going to mandate that every person in the county wears a mask,” Danner said. “I do not feel like I have the authority to do that. No matter what the Governor stated in his proclamation, I do not think that gives me he authority to mandate people have to do something.”
Danner said low numbers of confirmed Covid cases in Overton contributed to the decision as well. The county currently has 65 confirmed cases with 16 active.
“With 16 people out of 22,000, I do not feel like the numbers are enough,” Danner said. “Like I tell anybody, if you feel like you need to wear a mask I think you should. If you are above the age of 60 and going out, you need to wear a mask. If you are going to cities with large amounts of people, you need to wear a mask.”
Danner said the last time the governor gave county executives the option to establish a mandate, the attorney general said it was not legal.
“We have had conference calls and we have had press conferences where I suggested to everyone to wear masks,” Danner said. “The sheriff and I have talked about it, and I do not see anyway that we can force people to wear a mask and give them a $50 dollar fine.”
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 54 Friday which grants county mayors the option to issue local mask requirements in the event of a significant rise in COVID-19 cases.