Maury County Mayor Speaks Out On Mask Mandates, School Closures

Photo – Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Speaks At No More Mandates Rally In Knoxville, TN.

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Stands

Knox County, TN – During the No More Mandates Rally in Knoxville on December 19th, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles spoke of the impact freedom of choice has had on the spread of the coronavirus and the unintended consequences of the decisions of our leaders.

 According to Ogles, Blount, Bradley, Madison, Maury, Washington and Wilson counties are of roughly the same size, population and demographic makeup.   

All of these counties are in the 100 to 140 thousand range population-wise and function as suburbs for larger communities. 

According to Ogles, three of the counties have mask mandates and four of them do not. 

Ogles said, “When you look at the total case counts…different communities with different approaches and different mayors.  Look at the total case count, they’re all identical. You look at active case counts, they’re all identical.  Look at the spread rate of the virus, they’re all identical.” 

Maury County is the lowest in all three categories and Ogles attributes this to a “common sense” approach rather than focusing on mandates and public health orders.   

The Mayor has never issued a mask mandate in Maury County stating that, “COVID is serious.  I encourage social distancing, I encourage you to be careful, to be kind AND yes wear a mask when applicable.” 

Mayor Ogles said his decision to not issue a mask mandate upholds the personal freedom of Maury County residents.   

In addition, he stated that the decision was made after consulting health professionals, reviewing legal opinions and concluding that it is still more likely for a resident of the state to die from an automobile accident or the flu rather than the coronavirus. 

Ogles relies on his constituents to make their own choices. 

“In Maury County you, have the right to choose (to wear a mask), but if you want one I’ll make sure you get one,” Ogles said. 

Regarding the closing of schools, Ogles expresses there is far more to consider than just the spread of the virus. 

He states that when schools are shut down there are unintended consequences.   

“You’re not just shutting down schools, you’re disrupting families,” Ogles said. 

Ogles states that in working-class communities, most families are dual income. 

“They’re not wealthy.  They can’t just hire a sitter.  If they miss two or three weeks of work, they might lose their job,” Ogles said. 

In Maury County, Ogles stated, there is a great deal of poverty and that half of the children are on reduced or free breakfasts and lunches at school. 

“A lot of those kids, when they leave school on Friday, they don’t eat again until Monday morning,” Ogles said. 

Ogles states that before a school shuts down, there needs to be a mechanism in place to make sure these children have access to food. 

“And that’s the problem, you have these mayors and governors all across the country making decisions like kings…and these unintended consequences are destroying families and they’re destroying businesses,” Ogles said. 

Regarding the decisions made by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Ogles states, “Our Governor is a nice man.  But most Tennesseans aren’t millionaires.  Most Tennesseans don’t have businesses that were deemed essential and could stay open.”   

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