MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In Tennessee, there is not a statewide mask mandate, but that has not stopped some Mid-South Mayors from taking matters into their own hands.
“We’re going to continue to drive this message that we need all the counties in West Tennessee to pass a mask mandate,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said.
That message seems to be working.
After Mayor Harris’ plea to mayors in West Tennessee to pass a mask mandate last week, Benton County Mayor Brett Lashlee implemented one for his rural county.
“My only regret is that it wasn’t soon enough,” Lashlee said. “I believe it should have been before the Thanksgiving holiday, so I wish I would have implemented it about one month or about five or six weeks sooner.”
Mayor Lashlee says Mayor Harris’ template on how to implement a mask mandate was helpful.
As of New Year’s Eve, Benton County has 72 active COVID-19 cases with 28 hospitalizations and 30 deaths.
Lashlee says he will likely continue to extend the mask mandate every week until further notice but hopes he doesn’t have to.
“I hope I don’t have to continue the mandate; I hope it’s something that becomes second nature with our behavior and that I can look up in a month, or a month and a half and say well we don’t need a mask mandate people have self-mandated now,” Lashlee said.
Meanwhile, mayor Lee Harris says he will continue the fight to implement a mask mandate in West Tennessee -- as Tennessee Governor Bill Lee repeatedly opposes pressure to implement a statewide mask mandate.
“We’ll be pushing that the legislative session which is starting soon also includes a discussion of a regional approach to confronting COVID-19,” Harris said.