MANDATE FACIAL COVERINGS OR NOT
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To: Citizens and Residents of
Haywood County, Tennessee
I have been asked to revisit the issue of mandatory facial coverings (Masks) for the citizens, residents and visitors while within the boundaries of Haywood County, Tennessee. A review of the circumstances and facts underlying the problem should place the conclusions in context.
On March 5, 2020, a nation-wide pandemic of Novel Coronavirus came to Tennessee; and thereafter spread throughout the counties in our State. There was an aggressive campaign to educate the population of Haywood County, by the State of Tennessee and local officials. Thereafter, many businesses and personal care services were closed in an attempt to “flatten the curve” with only “essential services” being allowed to remain open.
On or about May 1, 2020, Haywood County, Tennessee, was allowed to reopen in staggered phases. Throughout the “Shut Down” and continuing to date, many of the residents have ignored the directives from the state and local officials designed to aid in the control of the virus. A portion of the population has engaged in coronavirus parties, large gatherings and personal conduct without adherence to any of the measures designed to decrease or control the spread of the virus. In meeting with some local residents, it was suggested that the government use scare tactics to shock the non-compliant residents into conformity. I have and continue to reject the notion of treating our citizens as children.
On June 20, 2020, Haywood County had 46 confirmed cases of covid-19. On July 3, 2020, The Honorable Bill Lee, Governor of the State of Tennessee, granted unto myself as County Mayor the authority to recommend or mandate facial coverings (Masks) in Haywood County, Tennessee. On that date, the official count for Haywood County residents was 92 confirmed cases of covid-19.
On July 7, 2020, an official directive or order was issues by myself as Mayor of Haywood County, Tennessee, recommending and/or suggesting the wearing of masks in public. (One of the first County Mayors in rural West Tennessee to do so.) On July 19, 2020, the official confirmed case count of residents infected with Covid-19 in Haywood County, Tennessee, had climbed to 181 persons. Many of the public have begun voluntarily wearing facial coverings. Some of the businesses have now made it mandatory that facial coverings be utilized while in their businesses. Currently, approximately one percent (1%) of the population of Haywood County Tennessee has been infected with the virus with approximately 115 active cases. Please note that the vast majority of active cases were infected prior to July 7, 2020.
ARGUMENT FOR MASKS:
It has been conceded by most that facial coverings provide little to no benefit to the wearer. The suggested benefit of masks is the partial capture of the water droplets contained in breathing, sneezing, and coughing, hence reducing the distance that an infected person may transmits the virus. Competent medical evidence is limited and/or few studies exists. The conclusion regarding reduction of transmission distance is pragmatic at best. Many conclude that masks may not be a complete elimination of the discharge of water droplets that contain the germs, but may be partially effective. The Center of Disease Control does recommend the use of facial covering when social distancing is difficult. The recommendation appears promulgated partially upon the belief that the mask obstructs some of the moisture discharged by the infected and hence reduces the distance of transmission of the germs.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST MASKS:
- Unconstitutional Mandate: Many competent attorneys including the Haywood County Attorney and Myself have concluded that the United States Constitution and the Tennessee State Constitution precludes the issuance of a mandate at this time.
- More Harm Than Good: The general public wear their “home made” masks periodically throughout the day and many days thereafter without washing or disinfecting the same. If the mask becomes contaminated with the coronavirus or other communicable diseases (example: Coming in contact with the discharge of an infected person or by handling items in the store upon which the virus rests and thereafter transfers the same to the mask in adjustments of the mask), the wearer breaths the virus in through the mask and likewise discharges the virus with each exhale through the contaminated mask to otherwise uninfected areas and uninfected persons. The contamination continues until the mask is removed, washed or disinfected, replaced, or the virus dies. Many of our citizens will not use the necessary hygiene measures to protect themselves or the public by frequently replacing masks or otherwise.
- Complacency and False Confidence: Many wearers of mask unconsciously violate the social distancing rules due to false confidence that the mask provides protection to the wearer. This encroachment is unintended but undeniable, which may result in the transmission of the disease.
- Unenforceable: There are not enough law enforcement personnel in Haywood County to administer justice to the present law breakers and chase non-compliant mask wears. There are no legal standards to measure compliance by citizens wearing masks improperly.
The British Medical Journal concludes that:
” THERE IS CURRENTLY NO EVIDENCE THAT WEARING A MASK BY HEALTH PERSONS IN THE WIDER COMMUNITY SETTING, INCLUDING UNIVERSAL COMMUNITY MASKING CAN PREVENT THEM FROM INFECTION WITH RESPIRATORY VIRUSES INCLUDING COVID-19.”
This does not speak to the issue of the possible decrease of the distance of transmission. For that reasons only, I recommend the wearing (NOT MANDATING) facial covering while in public places occupied by others. You should:
- Employ social distancing, whenever possible;
- Use good personal hygiene, especially washing your hands frequently;
- Avoid large gatherings, whenever possible. Whenever it is impossible to avoid large crowds or social distance with the public, wear a facial covering to protect others from your germs;
- Remember to change your facial covering throughout the day;
- Wash or disinfect all masks at least daily;
- Remain home when you are sick;
- Treat every non-family member that they may have the virus; and
- Be considerate of each other.
The wearing of facial coverings is a personal thing and should not be controlled by the government, but should be the product of a caring society that is considerate of the fellow citizens. This opinion is limited to the public wearing of non-medical facial coverings. People with compromised immunity conditions should seek medical advice.
BY: David M. Livingston
Haywood County Mayor