Gov. Bill Lee intends to extend an executive order that allows the majority of Tennessee’s counties the option to require face coverings in public as the state has seen coronavirus case counts grow.
Gillum Ferguson, Lee’s spokesman, confirmed Monday the executive order will be extended until the end of the year. The order – which applies to 89 out of the state’s 95 counties – was scheduled to expire at the end of the month.
In Tennessee, executive orders can be extended up to 60 days at a time.
Meanwhile, the state’s six larger metro counties with locally governed health departments already had authority to implement their own COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates.
Lee has resisted calls to implement a statewide mask order and instead stressed the need for people to take “personal responsibility” in helping combat the virus pandemic. The White House has warned Tennessee that “a statewide mask mandate must be implemented” to curb the spread of COVID-19.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including life-threatening pneumonia.
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