Hancock County Mayor Thomas Harrison announced on August 3 that he will be extending the mask requirement that he put in place at the beginning of July.
“It’s been about 30 days since I asked everyone to wear a mask in public places,” he said. “At this time, I’m asking for this to be extended for another 30 days at which time we will re-evaluate our case numbers and make a decision for the next days.”
Though Hancock County was the last county in the entire state to have a confirmed case of COVID-19, there had been 10 confirmed cases as of July 9, when Harrison put the mask requirement in place.
As August 3, the number of cases drastically increased to 76 cases since the pandemic crisis began in March.
The average rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 county residents in Hancock County over the last 14 days was 50.93 on August 3. This is drastically over the Tennessee Department of Health’s recommended threshold of 10.
“Wearing a mask has been heavily discussed,” Harrison said in his Aug. 3 announcement. “It all comes down to this. It’s our duty as human beings to consider our families and loved ones when it comes to sickness and things that could affect them. It’s also our duty to be kind and considerate to everyone else and take into consideration others’ lives and well beings.
With that said, I’m sure we will all do what’s necessary to keep ourselves, our families and everyone else safe and healthy.”
This mask requirement requires that citizens wear a mask inside all businesses, public buildings and restaurants within the county.
Masks are not required when outside in the open air.
As far as enforcing the mask requirement, Harrison told the Review/Eagle last month, “We are servants of the people and elected by the people. Really, all we can do is ask. There will be no civil or monetary penalties (if you don’t wear one). You won’t be arrested or given a ticket. Hopefully, good common sense and love for your fellow man will help you make that decision. We’re just looking out for our public and families.”
He went on to add that about 75-80% of the community response to his requirement has been positive.
“I’m not trying to press anyone—I’m just trying to look out for the greater good,” he said last month. “By that decision, hopefully we can save some lives or prevent someone from even being sick. If we can do that—if it’s even just one life—then it’s worth it to me.”