Hamilton County, TN – Mayor Jim Coppinger has extended Hamilton County’s mask mandate until January 15, 2021. His decision on the mask mandate was announced Thursday during a press conference.
Mayor Coppinger began his conference by thanking health department workers for their efforts in combatting COVID-19. The Mayor indicated that many healthcare workers were in the room for the press conference, but many more weren’t able to attend due to being “too busy fighting the virus.”
Dr. Brian Johnson spoke about the concerns of schools.
“We have tried to be fully transparent,” Johnson said and he indicated many measures have been put in place to deter the spread of the virus.
Dr. Johnson stated that 41% of COVID-19 cases have been in the high school age group and this “isn’t unexpected and we will continue to monitor the cases”. Decisions will be made after Thanksgiving break as to how schools will proceed for the rest of the semester.
“Every decision we make is the about the children,” Johnson said.
Mayor Coppinger stated that many people do not believe that this pandemic is real and that it is a “myth”.
“We are relying on the public to help us in this fight to minimize the spread, ” Coppinger said.
Coppinger introduced Mike Connie, a local businessman.
Connie is the father of two young girls and has dealt with the local schools’ protocol concerning the virus and has implemented several new protocols for his business.
Connie has local employees as well as roughly 2,000 employees throughout the country. He stated that he is healthy but anyone is susceptible to catching the disease.
Mayor Coppinger heavily stressed social distancing during the press conference.
He was asked by reporters how individuals who do not comply with the mask mandate will be handled.
Coppinger stated, “I have people telling me that they want me to enforce it. We’ve said this from the beginning. We don’t want this thought of as something punitive. We only want it to have to deal with the people who are not in compliance.”
“As we get reports… we go out and speak with them and try to get them to come into compliance. But we have had instances where… we have actually cited people and before going to court, they admitted that they knew we were right and wanted to back off. I told them, ‘fine’. Our intent was never to get you in court. We just want you to be in compliance,” Coppinger said.
On Wednesday morning, November 18th, the Hamilton County Commission met with Coppinger in attendance.
Mayor Coppinger and the Commissioners who spoke regarding the matter all touted the effectiveness of masks, social distancing, and general COVID-19 restrictions while call-in residents voiced concerns and asked questions regarding policies.
The County Commission accepted five total calls from Hamilton County residents. All five calls were in opposition to the mask mandate and the extension thereof.