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Although the mandate ends, continue wearing your face mask

After Gov. Bill Lee granted authority to local governments to declare mask mandates, some county mayors, including Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett, have moved to require them.
Within recent days and weeks, Carter County has experienced an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Over a two-day period this week, Carter County recorded 47 cases of COVID-19, including three deaths this week, bringing the total to 18. As of Friday there were 559 active COVID-19 cases in the county.
The Carter County face mask mandate is due to expire this weekend. Because of the recent spike in cases, we implore Mayor Barnett to seriously consider extending the mask mandate, especially with the re-opening of schools.
Face masks, albeit many still do not wear them, are emerging as one of the most powerful weapons to fight COVID-19 with growing evidence that facial coverings help prevent transmissions — if an infected wearer is in close close contact with others. Ballad Health officials echoed those same sentiments this week in urging people to continue wearing face masks when they are out in public places in addition to washing their hands often.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends the use of cloth face coverings in public. Many researchers are also now examining the possibility that masks might offer some personal protection from the virus, despite initial thinking that they mostly protect others.
Experts also caution that widespread masking doesn’t eliminate the need to follow other recommendations, like frequent hand washing and social distancing.
Because of the spike in local coronavirus cases, we urge the community to become more serious about their behavior and wear the masks — especially people attending the car show in the downtown on Saturday and other community gatherings, like church services. Everyone must take responsibility for the increased number of cases in the community.
We would remind the community that local nursing home residents have been in lockdown since early March. For the most part they have not been able to have visitors, to leave the nursing home, nor even go outside. They are not the ones spreading the virus, but they are paying the price as the rest of the community goes and comes as they please with no regard for this group of people, who are paying the price just because they have been blessed with a long life and are in a nursing home. As long as COVID-19 cases remain on the rise, nursing home residents will remain in lockdown. Have some compassion and mercy on this segment of our community. Wearing a mask is one of the most urgent things we can do to get COVID-19 in our community and country under control. We’re all waiting for the vaccine, for therapeutics, but we’re not there yet. To not wear a face mask is selfish and shows a lack of compassion for your friends and neighbors. No one is immune from COVID-19.
So, while we’re seeing cases rise locally, we can see cases go down just as quickly if we all will do the things that we know slow the spread of this disease, including wearing a face covering.
We hope our community will get serious about this for the sake of everyone, especially our school children, nursing home residents, older citizens who attend church, and those who have serious health conditions.