MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the latest health directive issued Friday, the Shelby County Health Department said they will be making masks mandatory for everyone in the county while out in public.
Health department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said more than 50% of the public has been wearing masks, but the messaging isn’t working, so they have to mandate facial coverings to curb COVID-19.
“We already have the ability to enforce within restaurants and other facilities that we inspect,” Haushalter said, “and then we also in writing the health directive have the ability to empower law enforcement to act on our behalf for enforcement.”
Masks were already mandatory in the city of Memphis after City Council approved an ordinance late last month.
In a news conference Haushalter said transmission in the Shelby County community is continuing to go up. Where they had been seeing 100 to 200 new cases a day, they’re now reporting upwards of 300.
On Friday, the county reported 11,044 cases, which is an increase of 442 cases within 24 hours. Approximately 194 people died from the virus, 7,125 are believed to have recovered from the virus and 3,725 are infected.
Daily coronavirus case count updates
In the past, the health department said they didn’t know if they could legally enforce masks, but now they’ve been given an “evolving” opinion that they can citing other cities who have done the same thing.
It’s unclear how they will enforce the new measure.
“At the current time we won’t have very specific enforcement measures in there but those can be added as we move forward,” said Haushalter. “We already have the ability to enforce within restaurants and other facilities that we inspect and then we also in writing the health directive have the ability to empower law enforcement to act on our behalf for enforcement.”
Everyone over the age of 12 will be required to wear masks while out in public.
Health department officials also said Friday to be prepared for upcoming restrictions on bars and restaurants. They said they will address it at the beginning of next week.
Suggest a Correction