July 30, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
DeKalb County is currently not under a county wide mask mandate due to COVID-19 and County Mayor Tim Stribling has no plans to issue one.
In a prepared announcement released Thursday afternoon, Mayor Stribling said while the governor has delegated limited authority to county mayors to make directives, his approach is to encourage the use of masks at all times in public rather than hand down a mandate.
“There is a rising concern with the rising number of positive cases of COVID-19 throughout DeKalb County as well as the State of Tennessee. Our local health department is averaging about 80 tests per day plus other medical facilities are testing as well. Most of the positive cases are asymptomatic. If they do have symptoms, the majority are sinus type symptoms or gastrointestinal symptoms”.
“As most of you know Governor Bill Lee delegated limited authority to local County Mayors to make directives encouraging or requiring the wearing of masks in public places subject to certain limitations. In considering both sides of the situation, I have spoken to the general public, local elected officials, many other County Mayors and have heard the opinions of the medical professionals.”
“I have put much thought into my decision concerning the mandating of masks for both residents and visitors and I will not make it a county wide mandate that would require the wearing of masks in DeKalb County. I encourage and recommend that masks be worn at all times in public. Right now, we’re just talking about masks, and we’re forgetting social distancing, forgetting the crowds and forgetting the hand sanitizer that keeps us safe as well”.
“I encourage people to wear masks. If a person chooses to wear or not wear a mask, that is their decision and I ask that you respect that right. If a business chooses to require or not require a mask upon entering their establishment, that is their decision and I ask that you also respect that right. We all have individual liberties and the freedom of choice. As you exercise those rights, take a personal responsibility to stay safe and to protect those around you”.
“I take this COVID-19 pandemic seriously and not mandating the wearing of masks in no way means I am making light of it. At the start of this pandemic, I have recommended and encouraged the citizens of DeKalb County to follow CDC guidelines regarding not only the wearing of masks but also washing hands frequently and practicing social distancing. I am asking each and everyone to make their own decisions and do what they feel is safest for them and their family”.
“We will continue to work closely with the Tennessee Department of Health and all agencies of government at all levels to minimize the impact on the residents of DeKalb County. That has been and continues to be our primary concern. We will get through this together as everyone takes a personal responsibility to do everything they can to protect our county,” said County Mayor Stribling.