NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Metro Board of Health passed a motion to require face masks to be worn in public. The details of the policy will be laid out by the Metro Public Health Department which will be written and go into effect at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Health officials made the unanimous decision during a special-called meeting Friday due to "emergency circumstances" in the rise of COVID-19 cases.
Davidson County is one of six Tennessee counties that has its own health department separate from the state, which is why it has the authority to put such a policy in place.
“The data is clear. Wearing a mask reduces the chance of contracting COVID-19,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir during the discussion.
“Every day we wait people die. Masks save lives.”
Mayor John cooper requested the meeting. He announced it on Twitter, saying "At my encouragement, the Metro Board of Health will hold an emergency meeting at 4:00 p.m. today to determine its support for a policy requiring face coverings in public places."
During the meeting, Tené Hamilton Franklin, MS, Vice-Chair made it a point to discuss the possibility of enforcement and its impacts on minority communities.
"I do want to make sure, as we consider what enforcement might look like, that it might involve the Metro Nashville Police Department. And I just want to make sure to be careful that there's not a disparaging impact on the homeless and on the black and brown communities. The goal is to change behavior not to make citations or to punish people financially," explained Hamilton.
Dr. Jahangir explained the city has reached a point at which officials have decided to mandate masks versus having to go back to a previous phase in the reopening plan.
On Friday, the state announced 1,410 people tested positive for COVID-19, making it Tennessee's largest one-day jump in cases and the worst week of the pandemic.