Lee signs order allowing county mayors to mandate mask wearing

Gov. Bill Lee, left, announces a $200 million relief program for businesses affected by the state’s stay-at-home order for non-essential businesses at Arnold’s restaurant in Nashville on June 2, 2020. To his right are House Speaker Cameron Sexton, Senate Speaker Randy McNally, Rep. Pat Marsh, and Rep. Harold Love. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has signed an executive order giving power to the mayors of 89 of 95 Tennessee counties to mandate wearing masks in public to help stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. In the remaining six counties, Shelby, Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, Sullivan, and Madison), the decision will be left up to the local health department.

“While our densely populated urban areas continue to have the highest COVID-19 case rates, our local governments expressed a need for greater flexibility in addressing a rise in cases and that includes setting stronger expectations around masks,” said Lee said in a statement. “This targeted approach ensures we protect both lives and livelihoods and safely keep our economy open in Tennessee. We encourage every Tennessean across the state to use a face covering or mask, make sure to socially distance and wash hands frequently.”

Here’s the full text of the order:


WHEREAS, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains a threat to our citizens, our healthcare systems, and our economy, and each Tennessean 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 “wear[ing] 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, importantly, wearing a cloth face covering is a simple step that each Tennessean can take to slow the spread of the virus, which prevents having to take more drastic and disruptive measures for our economy and job market, like requiring the closure of businesses; and

WHEREAS, whether to require or recommend wearing a face covering may depend on the spread of COVID-19 or lack thereof in a particular community, which varies widely across the State, and local governments are therefore better positioned to make this decision based on the conditions in their communities; and

WHEREAS, in addition to the other powers granted by law, Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 58-2-107, provides, among other things, that during a state of emergency, the Governor is authorized to suspend laws and rules regarding the conduct of state business if necessary to cope with an emergency, utilize all available state and local resources needed to combat an emergency, and take measures concerning the conduct of civilians and the calling of public meetings and gatherings, among other things, as well as delegate such powers as the governor may deem prudent; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to this authority and the general emergency management powers of the Governor under law, the temporary suspension of selected state laws and rules and the other measures contained herein are necessary to facilitate the response to the ongoing effects of the emergency resulting from COVID-19. 

NOW THEREFORE, I, Bill Lee, Governor of the State of Tennessee, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Tennessee Constitution and other applicable law, do hereby declare a continuing state of emergency and major disaster in order to facilitate the response to COVID-19 and accordingly order the following:

1.       Persons are urged to wear face coverings in public places.  To reiterate Paragraph 5 of Executive Order No. 38 (as extended by Executive Order No. 50), in accordance with CDC guidance, persons, including employees or customers of businesses, are strongly urged 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.  Such cloth face coverings can be created from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost.  Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.  Surgical masks and N-95 respirators should be reserved for health care workers and first responders. 

2.       Specific delegation of authority to issue orders concerning face coverings.  Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in Paragraph 13.b. of Executive Order No. 38 (as extended by Executive Order No. 50, and as may be subsequently extended), county mayors in the 89 counties that do not have a locally run county health department shall have the authority to issue orders or measures requiring or recommending the wearing of face coverings within their jurisdictions, consistent with Paragraph 3 of this order.  

3.       Contents of local orders.  Orders or measures issued by county mayors pursuant to this Order should be consistent with CDC guidance and may have such exemptions as deemed advisable, provided that, at a minimum, there shall be no requirement that a face covering be worn:

i.         Within one’s residence or automobile, unless transporting others for hire;

ii.        By a child twelve (12) years of age or younger;

iii.       By someone who has trouble breathing due to an underlying health condition or another bona fide medical or health-related reason for not wearing a face covering;

iv.       By someone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance;

v.        While eating or drinking;

vi.       While outdoors, unless the person cannot substantially maintain appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s household;

vii.      While working under conditions where appropriate social distancing from others outside of the person’s household is substantially maintained;

viii.     In situations in which wearing a face covering poses a safety or security risk;

ix.       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

x.        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.

4.       Suspension of laws that would limit application of this Order.  Any law, order, rule, or regulation that would otherwise limit the enforceability of this Order is hereby suspended, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 58-2-107. 

5.       Nothing preempts or supersedes any authority of bodies in six counties with a locally run county health department.  Nothing herein or in Paragraphs 5 or 13 of Executive Order No. 38 (as extended by Executive Order No. 50, and as may be subsequently extended) preempts or supersedes any existing authority, as provided by executive order, statute, charter, or otherwise, of a locally run county health department, board of health, official, or local legislative body, located in a county with a locally run county health department, to issue or enact orders, ordinances, rules, or law regarding face coverings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  Executive Order No. 38 (as extended by Executive Order No. 50, and as may be subsequently extended) is hereby amended to the extent necessary to effectuate this Paragraph 5, which amendment shall survive expiration or termination of this Order.

6.       Effect of Order.  A local order promulgated under the authority delegated by this Order constitutes an order, rule, or regulation promulgated pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2, Part 1, for purposes of Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 58-2-120.

7.       Severability.  If any provision of this Order or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this Order which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to that end the provisions of this Order are declared to be severable.

8.       Term and effective date.  This Order shall be effective upon execution and shall remain in effect until 11:59 p.m., Central Daylight Time, on August 3, 2020. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have subscribed my signature and caused the Great Seal of the State of Tennessee to be affixed this 3rd day of July, 2020.

23 Responses to Lee signs order allowing county mayors to mandate mask wearing

  • James White says:


    • MARLE says:

      Have you gotten over having to wear a seat belt and a shoulder restraint?

      • Kb says:

        We need masks every flu season. Gloves too. We also need to wear helmets in cars. Maybe we could get those Alexa devices to wake us up every morning by reminding us to exercise and take our vitamins. I read a book about that once.Government can create a wonderful world of guaranteed paychecks and good health.

        • MARLE says:

          The 2 biggest mask-advocates are Fauci and Birx….the duet foisted upon the nation by none other than Donald Trump. He gave them a daily stage, a microphone and called them “brilliant”. Trumps White House guidelines are the ones being followed by Governors and Mayors as we speak. They didn’t make these guidelines up….they came from Trump’s peeps.

          And as for guaranteed paychecks Trump is trying to outbid Democrats for higher payouts for those who aren’t working . Was it Trump you were trying to slam in your comments?

          • John says:

            Absolutely. And the second biggest mask advocates are Pence, Sean Hannity and 94% of Fox News, McConnell, and now Trump himself. Bill Lee takes his orders from above.

            You can take a man out of New York City and move his primary residence to Mar A Lago, but you can’t take the New York City Democrat pro-abortion Clinton/Epstein pal, bankrupt (4x) welfare queen out of the pedophile.

          • Eddie White says:

            President Biden will help relieve your Trump syndrome.

          • MARLE says:

            If President Trump had been governing the way Candidate Trump said he would there would be no Trump syndrome. The things Candidate Trump wanted to do about taxes, the Fed, immigration, military, etc are nothing like what the President has done.

  • Not Stuart Anderson says:

    Better late than never. I hope.

  • Donna Locke says:

    My daughter, son-in-law, and 7-year-old grandson are sick with this virus. My 10-year-old granddaughter has not showed much symptoms. My son-in-law is better. I am most concerned now for my daughter and grandson, who, like me, tend to get sicker with stuff. By the way, they had some false negative tests.

    • Donna Locke says:

      Still, none of us in the family are panicking and carrying on as the hyperventilating Democrats are. We done seen and been through too much, baby.

      • Donna Locke says:

        The 7-year-old fought it off after about a day and seems okay now. My daughter is better but has a rash and feels weird in her head. They did take the Sambucol black elderberry syrup I told you folks about. They ran out, and I have more ordered.

        • John says:

          Sambucol does not work against covid. The only proven treatment is colloidal silver sold by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker Global Ministries Inc.

          • MARLE says:

            In the whole of the USA, 35 people under the age of 15 have died from covid. Between ages 35-44 there have been 2K. IN that same age group under 44 there have been 16 Times more deaths from other causes.

            Millions upon millions of Americans have recovered fully from Covid and I suspect nealry all of them never heard of Sambucol. But they probably all drank water during their illness.

          • Donna Locke says:

            Sambucol black elderberry extract was developed by a virologist in Israel and has had scientific testing against viruses, particularly flu. I would not recommend if I had not used it, effectively, in the past. We don’t know if it works against COVID-19, but there is a possibility it may help. It is safer than drugs and worth a shot. Do as you please. We’ll do what we want. I’m just passing along the information, just as my Georgia neighbor passed it along to me more than 20 years ago. I had a longtime serious ear and sinus infection that did not respond to several antibiotics. I had this a long, long time and possibly got the infection in Mexico. It was not going away. After 4 days of the black elderberry extract, the infection cleared and has not returned.

            I have used it against cold and flu, also. It has always helped me.

          • James White says:

            Zinc is needed to fight viral infections. Once mechanism is inhibiton of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which is essential to the replication of coronaviruses and several other viruses. Hydroxycloroquine and other ionophores such as quercetin and elderberry facilitate zinc entry ionto the cell – and hydroxychloroquine is far more likely to be effective if zinc is added. Zinc, like vitamin C, may be depleted in fighting viral infections. Repletion is urgent if the patient develops tinnitus, depression, or smell and taste disorders. Beef and poultry are good sources; meat shortages would worsen dietary deficiencies.

        • Donna Locke says:

          One other thing I want to mention — my daughter has not had a fever while sick with this virus, so temperature testing is not reliable, really. Some people don’t run fevers when sick. I rarely have. A fever is actually good for fighting stuff.

          • MARLE says:

            Since the Trump-heralded brilliant Fauci and Birx have been saying all along that the highest contagion levels are 2 days prior to Any symptoms, temperature checks have made little sense as a practical matter.

            Sambucol’s effectiveness it seems is in the fact that it encourages cytokine production. Sadly in the most serious covid victims (esp those without severe underlying conditions) it seems that Cytokine Storm is the culprit, not viral reproduction. So, in the significant otherwise healthy individuals who get covid AND who are among those genetically predisposed to having an immune-overreaction it would seem that elderberrry is not a good thing but something that Might contribute to a serious. or even, lethal outcome. The estimate is that 15% of people are genetically predisposed and the steroids now being given like Remdesivir or Dexamethasone are drugs for those in Cytokine Storm inflamation syndrome.

          • Donna Locke says:

            Sambucol has never caused a cytokine storm in me, and I have asthma and other allergies and am susceptible and prone to that. I have used it for 25 years.

            It may keep the virus from replicating. My daughter was developing the COVID respiratory symptoms, and her chest was tightening up. These stopped immediately as she took the Sambucol. She is 47, and she is alive and recovering. I don’t know how effective the Sambucol is. I am relaying the info.

          • MARLE says:

            It doesn’t cause a cytokine storm (which is haywire over-reaction) but adding any level of cytokine production, which it does, in the 15% people who are already prone to cytokine issues, would be problematic. Any while most viruses do not create a cytokine storm reaction to the degree that covid seems to (which is why it went improperly identified for so many months), past experience with other viruses is not a good predictor for the 15%.

            Since elderberry tamps down viral replication wouldn’t this have been an excellent, low cost/low risk way to prevent 130K deaths?

          • Donna Locke says:

            Since my daughter was a child, she, like me, has had immune system overreaction. The Sambucol did not add to that. It stopped it. Since she actually has the virus, I bow to her as the expert. She has more bottles of Sambucol coming from Amazon.

            This is a serious, serious virus that leaves some people with ongoing neurological and cardiovascular problems after “recovery.” Children are sometimes left with a serious syndrome of problems after “recovery” from this illness.

  • Follow all orders of government leaders and you will remain safe.

    • James White says:

      And the States have too much authority to do it (or at least they think they do). The state legislatures need to review and remove the governors and mayors and health departments authority to do this.

  • James White says:

    I guess if you don’t want to ware one, then you could say you have a medical condition, and HIPPA rules will not allow anyone to check?

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