Photo: Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger
Photo Credit: Mayor Jim Coppinger / Facebook
Published April 29, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
Hamilton County, TN – As Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger promised, the county-wide mask mandate has lifted as of today, April 29th.
In a briefing on March 18th, Coppinger set the end date for today.
In yesterday’s briefing, Coppinger stated, “We appreciate everybody’s participation. It’s been extremely important to our county and to the well-being of our citizens. For all of you that came along willingly and helped us we really do appreciate that.”
The first case of COVID-19 was detected in Hamilton County in March 2020.
Coppinger stated that shortly after that, President Trump shut down businesses throughout the country for about two or three weeks.
“He realized that was doing a lot of hardship on the economy and they reopened but, at that particular time, the city of Chattanooga had shut businesses down and each jurisdiction was doing its own thing,” Coppinger said.
Coppinger expressed that this went on until Governor Lee stepped in and handed the responsibility off to the independent health departments in the state, one of which operates in Hamilton County.
“We want to be sure we get history right. What happened here in Hamilton County, what we saw during the shutdowns, we saw small businesses go away and some of them have not returned and won’t be able to return.”
“We also saw unemployment go into double-digits pretty quickly. We saw the hospital numbers climb. We saw the daily cases climbing and we saw the death count rise as well.”
Coppinger stated that the leadership did everything that was possible through July but it became apparent that, “some measures had to be taken to try to slow down and minimize the spread.”
According to Coppinger, on July 10th, the county issued a mask mandate and made an announcement the week before it was put into effect and began heavily promoting the CDC guidelines.
Coppinger attributes the wearing of masks with the reopening of the county.
“We started to be able to open things up to where the economy started to come back…we were able to open up even salons and things of that nature. So, the economy opened up as a result of the mask mandate, which we would not have been able to do because of how rampant it was running through our community,” Coppinger said.
He also attributed the decline in unemployment to be a result of the mask mandates.
“Unemployment dropped from double-digits down to, at one point, about 4.5%.”
He stated that his belief is that the mask mandates made employers feel more comfortable about allowing their employees to come to work and assist their customers.
Coppinger also made reference to the mask mandate allowing the public schools in the county to open on time.
“We were one of the few places in the state where that did happen and we give a lot of credit to the Health Department working with the Department of Education and making that possible,” Coppinger said.
He stated that students were in school 84 days in the first semester.
Regarding vaccinations, Coppinger stated that they made a promise that once a better mitigation was available, the masks would come off.
He went on to promote the vaccine and attributed the lifting of the mask mandate to the number of people in Hamilton County who have received the vaccine.
Hamilton County health department officials who spoke at the briefing recommended following the updated CDC guidelines which state that, “you can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart. You can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart” as long as no one in the group is at high risk of severe illness from the virus.”
The CDC stated that, “We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions – like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces – in indoor public places until we know more.”