Photo Courtesy of Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department
Chattanooga, TN – A new executive order from Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will limit all indoor gatherings to no more than ten people, and Hamilton County’s Sheriff, Jim Hammond, has voiced his support.
Many Republican leaders across the state praised the lack of a mask mandate, while it was a cause for concern for many medical professionals.
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Tennessee as the worst in the nation when it came to spiking Covid-19 cases. Over a seven day period, the average number of new cases in Tennessee was 135.6 per 100,000 people. However, on Thursday, Kentucky cases rose high enough to surpass Tennessee.
On Monday, Sheriff Hammond released a statement that said, “In light of the continuing increase of COVID-19 cases we are seeing, I support Governor Bill Lee’s directive to limit public gatherings to 10 people as we seek to slow the spread of this virus, especially throughout the holiday season.”
Hammond declined to say if he would be for or against a statewide mask mandate. However, there is currently a mandate throughout all of Hamilton County until early in 2021.
Hammond went on to say, “As someone who has experienced COVID-19 firsthand, I understand the serious health issues surrounding the virus and how quickly it can affect someone. While this directive may not be popular with all our citizens, the safety and well-being of our community is paramount as we attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
In October, Hammond had to be hospitalized after contracting Covid-19, and during that time he experienced fairly mild symptoms as well as struggling with his oxygen levels. Hammond was only in the hospital for around one week.
While over the summer Hammond told News Channel 9 that masks did not do anything to prevent the virus, after leaving the hospital he added that wearing masks should be an individual choice.
“I think that masking is an individual choice,” he said after initially leaving the hospital. “If you are asked to wear masks, you should be kind enough to tell the person, ‘Yes, I will either mask up or remove myself from the area.’ That’s my position on it, that you use caution. You protect your own family. You protect yourself. And you try to protect others.”
On Monday, Sheriff Hammond wanted to add to his previous statements by saying, “As my office has demonstrated since the pandemic began, it is neither my goal nor my objective to have my deputies actively seeking violators out. I am going to continue to leave the enforcement of this order to my deputies’ discretion and be reviewed on a case by case basis. It is my hope our citizens will understand the importance of slowing the spread of COVID and will continue to take the necessary precautions this holiday season. I strongly encourage Hamilton County citizens and those visiting our county to comply with the Governor’s directives. It is up to each of us to do our part to mitigate this deadly virus.”