NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Health Department has released the details of its order requiring facial coverings in Nashville.
As outlined by officials, masks/face coverings must be worn in indoor and outdoor public spaces, starting Monday at 12:01 a.m. The order states those who violate it "shall be subject to civil and criminal penalties, including punishment as a Class C Misdemeanor" starting July 3.
It also requires businesses to post signage at their entrances stating all employees, customers and visitors must wear masks.
“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.”
The department says masks are not required in the following settings and circumstances:
- By any child aged 12 years or younger. Any child younger than two years old must not wear a face covering because of risk of suffocation. Parents and caregivers must supervise the use of face masks by children to avoid misuse.
- In outdoor public spaces unless maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible;
- While engaged in outdoor work or recreation, such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, unless maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible;
- By those who cannot medically tolerate wearing a face covering. No person declining to wear a face covering because of a medical condition shall be required to produce verifying medical documentation;
- Within one's own or another’s motor vehicle, provided the vehicle is not being used for public transportation or a vehicle for hire;
- Within educational institutions, public and private K-12 schools, private colleges and universities, trade schools, post-secondary, and technical colleges, provided K-12 schools comply with the conditions in Nashville Plan: A Framework for a Safe, Efficient and Equitable Return to School, as outlined at https://news.mnps.org/nashvilles-plan-for-reopening-schools/ [news.mnps.org];
- By those working alone in separate office spaces or in non-public workplaces that have more than adequate area for social distancing based on the size of and number of people in the space (either indoors or outdoors). Such persons must be prepared to wear a face covering when interacting with others in groups of 6 or more persons or in groups of any size where social distancing of more than six (6) feet cannot be consistently maintained;
- When wearing a face covering poses a safety risk or security risk. "Safety risk" includes, but is not limited to, where wearing a face covering may pose a risk to persons working on ladders or at height, wearing other respiratory protection, engaging in heavy physical exertion, operating heavy equipment, or operating in an environment where a face covering hinders communications. “Security risk” includes, but is not limited to, an activity or transaction where establishing the identity of the customer or employee is important. However, employers are encouraged to structure work to promote social distancing and limit close contact as much as possible within workplaces where Face Coverings may pose such risks;
- When eating or drinking in public at a restaurant, bar, or other food or beverage establishment;
- While in a place of worship. Places of worship are strongly encouraged to follow the health guidelines in paragraph 3 of Governor Lee’s Executive Order No. 38, issued on May 22, 2020; and
- While in a building or indoor space owned, managed, or leased by the State of Tennessee or federal government.
The mask mandate was approved unanimously at a special-called Health Department meeting last 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.
“We are in Phase 3 of our reopening, we want to keep moving forward and not backwards. Texas and Florida regressed in their reopening plans, we don't want that to happen in Nashville, and making masks mandatory will help us prevent that," added Jahangir.
The Metro Public Health Department is giving out free masks from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lentz Public Health Center.
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COUNTY-BY-COUNTY CASES IN TENNESSEE
What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.
What are the symptoms?
The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of the following symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.
The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.