A day after Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger asked the health department to require that people wear masks in public, Chattanooga made national news as a COVID-19 hotspot, and now doctors are asking Gov. Bill Lee to mandate face coverings state-wide to prevent the spread of the virus.
Here’s why health + government officials ordered the mandate that people wear masks starting Friday or risk a $50 fine and up to 30 days in jail. 👇
- Masks prevent the spread of COVID-19. One study found that surgical masks can reduce the spread of the virus by as much as 75%.
- COVID-19 has killed 130,000 Americans.
- Local cases have increased in the past two weeks.
- It’s killed 35 people in Hamilton County.
- So far, 2,909 people locally have tested positive.
- 38 new people were added to that list Monday.
- There are 55 people currently in local hospitals with COVID-19.
- 17 people are in the ICU.
- 17% of people in Hamilton County who have died did not have underlying conditions.
- People are unknowingly spreading it at events such as graduations and weddings.
- Some local populations are being disproportionately affected. The local Hispanic population has experienced 29% of total deaths.
- The virus is getting more difficult to trace locally. Health officials are monitoring thousands who may have been exposed.
- Cases, hospitalizations + deaths could be spreading faster than recorded cases show.
- Officials + business owners said it’s better for the economy.
“Multiple scientific studies have shown that masks significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 and saves lives…If we want to live in a way that approaches normal, if we want to keep our economy open and if we want to protect ourselves and each other … we need to do a few simple things: maintain your distance, maintain good hygiene with frequent handwashing … and cover your mouth and nose when you’re around others. This is not too much to ask.” – Dr. Paul Hendricks, Hamilton County Health Department
“There is a very real toll that’s happening in our community, but unfortunately until you have a personal connection with someone impacted by the virus, it’s hard to fully understand the consequences … Even though we urged our citizens to wear masks, the compliance was low so now that wearing masks is not optional we hope to see a decrease in the spread.” – Becky Barnes, Hamilton County health administrator