From Staff Reports
Unicoi County has joined Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Sullivan and Washington counties in issuing a mandatory mask mandate.
According to Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely, the decision to issue a mask mandate came from a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the Appalachian Highlands region.
“Cases are increasing and so are hospitalizations in the region,” Evely told The Erwin Record.
The Tennessee Department of Health is reporting that the Northeast Tennessee region saw an increase of 85 new COVID-19 cases since Wednesday, July 15. According to tn.gov/health, Unicoi County currently has 10 active COVID-19 cases which is a rise of two new cases since July 15.
Tennessee currently has 71,540 cases of COVID-19, which is an increase of 2,479 cases since Wednesday, July 15. There have been a total of 796 deaths related to the COVID-19 in Tennessee, which is an increase of 13 deaths since Wednesday, July 15.
Unicoi County’s mandatory mask mandate begins on Friday, July 17, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. and will require masks to be worn by the public while inside public places and employees of businesses must wear a mask inside their places of employment. The mandate shall remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2020, unless it is extended.
Here is the full text of the mayor’s executive order:
“WHEREAS, this Executive Order Requiring Masks as Face Coverings in Unicoi County, Tennessee, is made by the Mayor of Unicoi County, Tennessee, pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 54 which delegated to county mayors without locally run health departments the authority to issue orders or measures requiring or recommending the wearing of face coverings in public for the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare; and
“WHEREAS, the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) remains a threat to the Tennesseans in Unicoi County, our healthcare systems, and our economy, and each Tennessean in Unicoi County should continue to protect themselves and others by following applicable health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading medical experts to slow the spread of this virus, including practicing social distancing, effective personal hygiene practices, and “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain”; and
“WHEREAS, The Governor’s Economic Recovery Group crafted “The Tennessee Pledge” as specific industry guidance that reflects a careful, measured approach to rebooting the economy with an outline of how businesses can protect workers and customers with social distancing, masks and other measures; and
“WHEREAS, the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and American Nurses Association, on July 6, 2020 issued an open letter to the American Public advising that we must resist confusing re-opening with returning to normalcy because doing so would result in more suffering and death, and urging the three simple steps of wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands; and
“WHEREAS, on March 12, 2020, the Governor of the State of Tennessee issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated§ 58-2-107(e)(l); and
“WHEREAS, on June 29, 2020, the Governor of the State of Tennessee issued an Executive Order (No. 50) facilitating and responding to the continuing effects of COVID- 19 by extending Executive Order Nos. 36 & 38 (as amended by Executive Order No. 49); and
“WHEREAS, on July 9, 2020 the Supreme Court of Tennessee issued its Order Regarding Face Coverings requiring all persons who enter a courthouse or other building in which court facilities are located to wear a face coverings at all times while inside the building; and
“WHEREAS, the number of persons testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase in Tennessee and specifically throughout the Northeast Tennessee region, including Unicoi County; and
“WHEREAS, wearing a cloth face covering, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands are three simple steps that each Tennessean in Unicoi County can take to slow the spread of the virus, reducing the likelihood that the local hospitals will near its ICU capacity; and reducing the need for more drastic and disruptive measures for the economy and job market; and
“WHEREAS, after consultation with the Mayor and City Manager of The Town of Erwin, the Mayor of the Town of Unicoi and a number of local officials conducting government business in public buildings, the County Mayor finds that there is a consensus that the wearing of cloth or other face coverings should be encouraged and required in certain circumstances, and should take effect as soon as possible;
“NOW, THEREFORE, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY DELEGATED BY EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 54 AND PURSUANT TO GOVERNOR LEE’S RECOGNITION OF A CONTINUING STATE OF EMERGENCY AND MAJOR DISASTER RELATED TO COVID-19, I, Garland Evely, Mayor of Unicoi County, Tennessee, issue the Order directing the following:
- Face Coverings in Public – Except for the exemptions recognized by the CDC, in accordance with CDC guidance, all persons twelve (12) years or older, including employees or customers of businesses, are required to wear cloth face coverings or other similar coverings in public settings where being in close proximity to others is anticipated, and particularly where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain at all times.
- Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarves, bandanas, or handkerchief to allow them to be created from household items and/or made a home from common materials at a low cost.
- All commercial business establishments that sell goods or services, or a combination thereof, including but not limited to grocery stores, restaurants, lobbies and public spaces in hotels and other places of lodging, pharmacies, banks, bars, salons, retail stores, medical and dental offices, and entertainment and sports venues are required to follow this Order and encouraged to follow the Guidelines of The Tennessee Pledge.
“IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this Order does not apply to:
- Within one’s residence or automobile (unless transporting other for hire);
- Any person who is under age 12;
- Any person who cannot safely wear a face covering because of trouble breathing due to an underlying health condition or another bona fide medical or health-related reason for not wearing a face covering;
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance; or
- While outdoors, unless the person cannot substantially maintain appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s household;
- While working under conditions where appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s household is substantially maintained;
- In situations in which wearing a face covering would pose a safety or security risk;
- While in a house of worship unless required by that house of worship, but wearing a face covering in such locations is strongly encouraged; or
- While in a voting site for the purpose of voting or administering an election, but wearing a face covering in such locations is strongly encouraged; or
- Municipal, County, and State courtrooms where the judges shall direct the rules concerning the use of masks and face coverings and other safety measures.”