Several Upper Cumberland County Executives said a regional mask mandate is not off the table, but enforcement is a concern.
White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson said the state has not given county leaders a way to require residents to wear face coverings.
“They have gave the county mayors, the county executives the authority to mandate masks. That is true,” Robinson said. “But what has not been given to us is any authority to enforce this mandate. Without an enforcement mechanism, it does not do any good.”
Robinson said the only way a region-wide mask mandate could work is if each county works together.
“When we meet, we discuss it, and we talk about it,” Robinson said. “And if something is done, we are such a mobile society. It would have to be done as a region. White County mandating masks on its own does nothing.”
Fentress County Executive Jimmy Johnson said he is not against a region-wide partnership but wants the state to lead the way.
“If the governor comes down and says we are going to do this regional. We would have to stand by him the way I look at it,” Johnson said. “Of course, I would, and I believe that the majority of the Upper Cumberland would also cause they are very interested in the health of the communities.”
Johnson said individual county mask mandates will not be enough since many residents travel across county lines.
Jackson County Mayor Randy Heady said he is willing to speak with other Upper Cumberland leaders about a region mandate but overall, would like Gov. Bill Lee to handle that decision.
“If he was to think that the best way to handle this is to do a mask mandate, then I would support him also in that decision,” Heady said.
Heady said until that happens, masks in Jackson County will remain an individual decision.