Hamilton County’s Health Department has filed the first lawsuit aimed at a local Chattanooga business that alleges that they are failing to comply with the county’s COVID-19 mandate.
The Hamilton County Health Department charges that on multiple occasions, employees and customers at Ed’s Supply Company (considered an essential business per TN Executive Order 22) were observed not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
When speaking with health inspectors about compliance, the business and its affiliates cited the ineffectiveness of masks and the fact they had installed UV ultraviolet light systems in their facility’s air conditioning system to assist in disinfection against COVID-19.
Ed’s Supply Company’s Facebook page and website states that they highly recommend their curbside pick-up and delivery options and ask that their customers maintain a six to eight-foot distance.
Inspectors from the health department made several unannounced inspections to the business over the last two months.
In mid-August, the business was informed of possible legal action and given a hard copy of the COVID-19 mandate and signage from the health department.
Shortly thereafter, on another unannounced inspection, the business was found to be in compliance but on following inspections, no customers or employees were observed to be in compliance with the mandate.
The county filed the lawsuit on August 28th.
Hamilton County health official, Lowe Wilkins, program manager for environmental health, stated in an email on September 2nd that chapter 95 of the Private Acts of 1885 and Tennessee code states that the health department “is authorized to affect the operation of businesses and places of public gatherings,” including closing public establishments and implementing procedures during an epidemic or pandemic.
Toward the beginning of the pandemic, the Chattanoogan Police Department stated that they would only be focusing on education about COVID-19.
In August, the CPD provided two code enforcement workers from the Department of Economic and Community Development to assist the health department in enforcement for local businesses found to not be in compliance with the COVID-19 mandate.
Many local business owners feel that mask mandates are more about government control than preventing COVID-19 and there is official research and professional opinions that support the ineffectiveness of wearing masks.
For example , research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April found that both surgical and cloth masks prove ineffective against the spread of COVID-19.
Additionally, the US Surgeon General has urged Americans not to buy or wear masks stating that wearing masks can actually increase one’s risk of infection.
This statement was seconded by the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Director and infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci.
Further, the World Health Organization and many other countries do not recommend wearing masks.
The Public Health Principle of Effectiveness states that public agencies should only intervene when they know an intervention is effective. A plethora of research shows the efficacy of masks is unclear.