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Delta variant is spreading, but there are no plans to return to a mask mandate in Nashville

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Posted at 8:09 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 21:09:33-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As cities across the country return to mask-wearing in the fight against the delta variant, Nashville officials suggest the city is not at that point just yet.

Metro Public Health said there has been “no discussion of returning to previous public health orders.” That’s according to communications director Brian Todd who followed up by saying, “the best protection is to get vaccinated and the vaccine is free and readily available.”

MPHD issued this statement back in March when they lifted COVID-19 restrictions:

“The MPHD continues to strongly recommend wearing masks for those who are unvaccinated when in crowds, indoors, and when unable to socially distance, as also recommended by the CDC. Each individual business retains the right to set their own restrictions regarding the use of masks."

Los Angeles County became the first major metro area to return to a mask mandate last week. The policy applies to the vaccinated and non-vaccinated. Harris County, Texas increased its threat level as a result of how easily transmissible the delta variant has become. Masks are now highly recommended for all people in Houston when indoors. Top officials say the variant made up 84% of the cases in the Houston area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not made a recent change to their mask recommendations, but some believe that could all change this week. They’re now under pressure to reinstate mask-wearing as the delta variant spreads.

Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas and Savannah, Georgia, have long been compared to Nashville in terms of demographics and population. We wanted to learn more about the number of cases for each city and if they planned to return to mask-wearing as a result.

As for the 7-day average of cases per day, Portland sits at 44, Savannah at 62, Nashville at 70, and Austin at 172. Those numbers are as of July 25. Of all three cities, Nashville is the only one that hasn't announced a plan to return to mask-wearing (Austin and Savannah) or is at least in discussions about the topic (Portland).

Jack Maier, who is visiting from Chicago, calls it all confusing. He’s fully vaccinated, but until he hears otherwise, he has no plans on carrying a mask everywhere he goes.

“I really don’t know what to believe or who to believe. I’m fully vaccinated and I’ve just heard I don’t have to wear a mask, so that’s why I just don’t bring a mask with me,” Maier said.

Dan Bryant, who is also visiting, says masks should just be the start. He still keeps his distance from large crowds, but knowing he’s been vaccinated is what makes him far less concerned about this variant.

“If you haven’t had a shot, you’re playing with fire. If you’ve just had one shot, I don’t think you’re that protected,” Bryant said.

At the beginning of July, Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center said that even in the face of this new variant, we’re still not at the point where we need to once again require a mask mandate.

He did say, however, that all people need to consider masks along with the vaccine for the best protection against the variant.