BARTLETT, Tenn. (WMC) - Across the country and here in Tennessee Republican governors and mayors have resisted mask mandates. But after the realities of business shutdowns and people out of work because of COVID-19, Republican Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald is rethinking those mask mandates.
Rethinking it so much he wants Tennessee’s governor to issue a statewide mask mandate.
“It’s a hot potato position to be in," said Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald. “I get it. I know that I’ll have critics that’s OK. They, in my opinion, maybe don’t have as much information as I have.”
McDonald has no illusions about what he wants to do -- talk with Tennessee Governor Bill Lee about a mask mandate for the state.
The Shelby County Health Department issued a mask mandate in July. But McDonald and the health department are concerned about people coming into Shelby County from neighboring counties where COVID-19 cases are rising but there is no mask mandate.
”We see it growing in the rural counties now where it wasn’t a problem in the past, now it is," he said.
Dr. Jeff Warren is on the joint COVID-19 Task Force and he agrees that a mask mandate is needed in the entire state
“Right now we know if everyone in the country put on a mask we could save between 100,000 and 150,000 lives between now and February," said Warren.
So far Lee has resisted a statewide mask mandate leaving it up to the counties.
Warren says he talked with several Republicans Tuesday who support a statewide mandate.
“I think they are calling the governor," said Warren.
The governor of a state in the top 10 of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“There’s a lot of data out there now that shows if you look at the states with the highest rate and the lowest rates have a mask mandate," said Warren. "The higher rate doesn’t.”
McDonald wants the mask mandate to avoid another stay-at-home order and shut down of businesses.
“I’d rather wear the mask than put people out of work so that’s why I’m asking the governor," he said.