Williamson County Mayor reinstates mask mandate, effective Saturday

Kerri Bartlett
Nashville Tennessean
Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson announced Thursday at a press conference at the Public Safety Office that masks will be required in public. The mandate is effective on Saturday. He intends for the mandate to be extended until the end of the year.

Following the rise in COVID-19 active cases over the past month, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson said "new action" is warranted.

Anderson announced at a Thursday press conference that he will reinstate a mask mandate — to be worn while in public — for the entire county effective at midnight on Saturday.

Gov. Bill Lee extended an order delegating counties the authority to make local decisions about masks, which is set to expire Oct. 30. However, Anderson said it is likely that Lee will renew the order. If so, Anderson says he intends to extend the mask mandate until the end of the year.

"Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads, and we need to take new action to ensure that we are headed down the right path again," Anderson said. 

Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, Brentwood Mayor Rhea Little, both public school superintendents and representatives from Williamson Medical Center were in attendance at the county Public Safety Office to support the mandate.

The decision follows a previous county mask mandate by Anderson that went into effect in July but expired at the end of August.

More:Williamson County won't require face coverings in public

“No one likes the fact that it is necessary to reinstitute a mask mandate in our county.  Unfortunately, the numbers can’t be ignored,” Anderson said. 

The number of active cases in Williamson County has risen steadily over the past month and a half, while the number of hospitalizations reached an all time high, 24 patients, at Williamson Medical Center, last week. The number of hospitalizations this week was 13, as of Oct. 20.

"If these trends continue, we could experience bed capacity issues in certain parts of the state as well as in our own county. We all need beds and available staff in our hospitals not only to care for COVID patients but to care for (others)."

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 685 active cases in Williamson County, up by 66 cases in the last seven days. This followed a short reprieve in September when the county experienced a dip in cases reaching as low as 300, according to the state health department.

The spread rate is currently .28%

Anderson said the rising rate of cases in Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District played a major role in the decision. Almost 2,000 students were quarantined over the past few weeks, resulting in four high schools closing for remote learning.

As of Oct. 19, 76 students tested positive with COVID-19, according to the WCS district tracker

However, the mandate won't affect the requirements in place at WCS and FSSD.

All of Williamson County's mayors signed a resolution in support of the mandate except Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham. Anderson explained that Graham was in a unique position because the city straddles Maury County, where masks are not mandated. 

Some constituents have resisted mask mandates, including a parent group that has brought a lawsuit against the Williamson County Schools District.

Anderson acknowledged, when asked at the conference, that views about masks can be controversial.

"There is always controversy, but we all have one thing in mind - the safety and security of our residents and school children," Anderson said. "To me, this cloth has become way too political. It's an instrument or a tool that helps people rather than it being a divisive piece of cloth."   

Exceptions to the order include children under 12 years old while in public (but still required for public schools) and those who cannot safely wear face coverings due to a medical condition, for example.

According to state law, violation of the order constitutes a Class A misdemeanor. 

"Let's not leave here today thinking that we are going to go out and heavy hand people into it," Anderson said. "We are really encouraging people to do it and giving people the tools in the city and the county to please wear your mask for safety."

"At the end of the day, I feel this order is in the best interest of our community," he added. 

For more information, visit the county emergency management website at

Kerri Bartlett can be reached at, 615-308-8324 or @keb1414 on Twitter.