Cheatham County Mayor Kerry McCarver said he won’t require county residents to wear masks as a COVID-19 precaution.

Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order last week that allows county mayors to require people to wear masks in public.

McCarver said Lee “has not outlined who would enforce his executive mandates or what the penalties would be. The executive order did not direct state funding for the local county to cover costs involved with enforcement.”

McCarver also cited freedom and personal responsibility for his decision, saying he encourages people to follow coronavirus-related guidelines but doesn’t want to issue orders.

Lee said that he had been contacted by many local government officials asking for the authority to mandate mask-wearing.

“Mask mandates are a hot topic. Face coverings are one of the more effective tools,” Lee said at a press conference last week. “My approach is more targeted to local counties as they request clarity on the authority they have to put in place stricter mask standards. That is the direction we are looking at.”

At the press conference, Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said that the state had recorded more than 1,800 positive cases of COVID-19, a one-day record for the state.

“This (growing cases) is not due to more testing. We have a growing problem in Tennessee, including rural areas,” Piercey said. “Now, at least half of cases are from an unknown source, or community transmission, meaning from people who are out and about trying to get back to normal. Please listen carefully. This is not the time to get back to normal. We are all experiencing what we call quarantine fatigue, but I guarantee you this virus is not getting tired. We must double down on our efforts to flatten the curve.”

Lee also signed an executive order last week to provide limited liability protection to healthcare workers. He said he will soon call a special session of the Legislature to address business liability.

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