Jackson, Madison County to let mask mandate expire midnight Saturday

Adam Friedman
Jackson Sun
Assistant coach Teddy Pettigrew takes the North Side football team's temperatures before they practice together in pads at North Side Field House in Jackson, Tenn., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. Each player wore a mask and got their temperature taken before entering the locker room to change.

Madison County's mask mandate will expire Saturday at midnight, health department officials announced Wednesday.

"Our goal was to flatten to curve and since Labor Day we have not seen a spike in cases," Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department executive Kim Tedford said during Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing.

Madison County's seven-day average of cases steadily dropped since its peak Aug. 15, when it confirmed an average of 51 per day. For the past two weeks, the seven-day average in new cases has dropped to about 25 to 30 per day.

On top of the case count, Jackson-Madison County General Hospital has seen a drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations from its peak of 116 patients. As of Wednesday, the hospital was treating 81 patients. 

Jackson Mayor Scott Conger said despite numbers moving in a "positive direction," people shouldn't take the mask mandate expiration as a "free-for-all."

While the mask mandate will be lifted, several "big box" stores like Walmart and Kroger, as well as all government buildings, will continue to require face masks upon entry.

The mask mandate had received some backlash from the community, but the requirement also provided smaller businesses a cover from implementing their own. 

Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department Director Kim Tedford speaks at the press conference, Mayor Jimmy Harris held, at Madison County Court House, Friday, March 20, 2020 in Jackson, Tenn. to declare a local state of emergency due to the coronavirus. (Photo: Stephanie Amador / The Jackson Sun)

Tedford said many businesses were happy to have it in place and hoped it would continue to protect employees. But, she said, people have been asking for the mandate to be repealed and for local leaders to "trust people to do the right thing."

"This is your chance," she added. "We can always go back and implement some requirements if we need too."

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