Doctors call on lawmakers to create mask mandates

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 23:45:56-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As cases of COVID-19 continue to spike throughout Tennessee, some medical professionals are asking lawmakers to require people to wear masks in public spaces.

"I would say it's an uncommon experience to find someone wearing a mask," said Dr. Amy Gordon Bono, a Nashville primary care doctor with a Masters Degree in public health.

She has been urging Metro lawmakers and health officials to mandate the use of masks and face covers in public.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and sadly at this point, we don't have cures; so we have to focus on prevention," Bono said. "A cloth face covering, when worn appropriately, can help reduce transmission of viral particles."

On Wednesday, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto issued a State of Emergency declaration that, at first, included a mask requirement. However, in a follow-up statement, Hutto said the county didn't have the authority to issue a mask mandate, and instead leaders were strongly encouraging the use of face coverings.

The COVID-19 response in most Tennessee counties is regulated by the state due to the fact that they do not have their own county health department, like Wilson County.

However, six counties in Tennessee have their own county health departments, which determines the COVID-19 response for those counties. The counties include: Davidson, Shelby, Hamilton, Knox, Madison and Sullivan.

Shelby County lawmakers approved an ordinance requiring masks in public last week.

"I think we need to take legislative action," Bono said. "I think we should unite around the fact that we can help our neighbors by just doing something simple."

In recent weeks, Bono has reached out to Metro Nashville City Council members about requiring masks in public.

"We want to be respectful of everybody to reduce tensions in our community, and try to guide people and educate them to all wearing facial coverings," Metro Health Director Dr. Michael Caldwell said when asked about the possibility of an order that would mandate face coverings in public.

There is a bill in the Metro Council that would require face coverings in public. It will be discussed during the July 7 council meeting.