At the recommendation of the local healthcare community, Henry County Mayor, Brent Greer, with the support of the Henry County COVID Response Team, has put an order in place, effective Tuesday at midnight, requiring masking in Henry County to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“People are sick, it’s that simple,” commented Henry County Mayor, Brent Greer. “In my twenty plus years of public service, I have never faced a situation like COVID-19. In our decision-making postures, it has been very difficult to determine the right direction to take. We are all learning as we go, but that does not excuse or justify delaying making the right decisions. Though difficult and sometimes unpopular, these efforts can help our community gain a path and direction to combat this pandemic. We all have to make personal sacrifices, as well as accept the counsel and advice of the leaders that are trying to direct us through this unsettling time.”
The Executive Order of the Mayor of Henry County requires all persons in Henry County to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth while in public and publicly accessible areas.
Those people or entities in control of premises subject to the masking requirement shall post signage at public entrances informing of the requirement to wear a mask within the premises. Proposed signage can be downloaded or picked up at the Chamber of Commerce.
Greer added “We hope that this effort will not only flatten the curve, but allow us to keep our economy open and give our businesses a chance to survive. We have confidence that once we have made the progress needed and this healthcare crisis becomes more manageable, we will be able to get back on track to creating a new normal.”
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee joined the Henry County COVID Response Team meeting Monday afternoon via conference call and said “I commend Mayor Greer and his COVID Response Team for making masks a priority in Henry County as we work together to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Masks are a simple, effective habit that make a big difference and we need every West Tennessean to adopt this habit. The #MaskUpHC campaign is a powerful show of local buy-in as masks are a tool that keeps our way of life on track even through unprecedented times.”
The University of Memphis conducted a study that showed 50% of the citizens of Memphis participated in masking before their city issued a requirement and over 90% are currently participating post-mask requirement.
In a letter Friday morning, Dr. Scott Whitby pleaded with local decision makers to “take the simple steps needed to stop the spread and require Henry Countians to wear masks along with continuing to encourage washing hands, maintaining physical distance, and limiting groups and gatherings.” He added “just a month ago, we might have come to a different conclusion, but the rapidly changing nature of this disease requires daily vigilance and adaptation. A masking requirement will help us as a medical community to ensure that we can care for our community.” C. Wright Pinson, CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, wrote in support of the requirements in Henry County stating, “Requiring wearing cloth masks in public will help keep our communities safe, our businesses open, and our economy moving.”
COVID-19 has not only impacted the healthcare industry, but tourism remains a vital component of the local economy. “We have been fortunate to see a significant amount of traffic this summer, as people travel to our lake,” Greer added. “These measures will allow that revenue to continue to flow into our economy.”
According to Dr. Whitby, “As of Thursday, July 30, Henry County has 56 Active Cases listed on the Tennessee State COVID-19 website. Caseloads have erupted with a total of 94 positive patients within the last 14 days. Thirty (30) of those were reported in a single 24-hour period just Wednesday. The State of Tennessee has set a threshold of concern at 10 infections per 100,000 citizens. Henry County is now at more than twice that threshold rate reaching 20.76 yesterday.”
The first shipment of the custom masks that were developed through the “Mask Up Henry County” Campaign will be available this Thursday at the Paris-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Paris City Hall, Paris Pediatrics and Eagle Creek Clinic. The second shipment will be available Friday, August 14th.
The order will go into effect at 12:01 AM. Wednesday, August 5, 2020, and will remain in effect until 11:59 P.M. Wednesday, August 12, 2020, unless rescinded, continued, or renewed.