In the weEarly this week, the White House quietly told Tennessee that “mask mandate must be implemented statewide” to curb its growing spread of Covid-19, an instruction that was only disclosed in requesting records, according to AP reports.
The October 11 state report released by Tennessee, where Republican Gov. Bill Lee, allowed counties to decide whether to order masks in public, first appeared in a records request from WUOT-FM. The Associated Press obtained the report from the Knox County Health Department afterward.
“The mask mandate must be implemented statewide to stop the increasing prevalence of the population in rural and urban Tennessee,” explains the record in the list of recommendations.
President Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he does not support the mandates of masks, but the recommendations of the task force and public health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, often conflict with the White House rhetoric.
The report takes the strongest tone yet in urging Tennessee to act, although Lee has made clear for several months that he does not believe masks should be used across the state. Lee, who has urged people to wear masks, continued to advise against mandating statewide Friday at an online press conference, in which he did not mention the White House instructions a few days earlier.
“At the state level, one-size-fits-all mandates are not as effective in many cases as local decision-making,” Lee said.
In a statement late on Friday, the governor’s office said the White House report had not changed its thinking.
“The governor strongly encouraged Tennessee residents to make responsible decisions to protect themselves and others from Covid-19, including wearing masks in public places, avoiding large gatherings, and staying home when sick,” the statement said. The governor’s opinion did not change on the basis of non-binding recommendations from the federal government. Previous White House reports dating back to the summer included similar recommendations, so listing them here is not new. “
Tennessee has seen an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in cities, especially in rural areas.
The average daily new cases for seven days in Tennessee rose from 1,412 new cases per day on October 1 to 1911 new cases per day on Thursday. Likewise, the positive rate for the seven day trader rate grew from 5.7% on October 1 to 7.48% on Thursday.