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Rutherford County won’t make masks mandatory, in spite of having Tenn. third-worst COVID-19 numbers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Some mid-state counties have this week made wearing a mask in public mandatory, with one notable exception.

Nashville put a mandatory mask order in place last week in reaction to a rising number of COVID-19 cases. The city was able to do so unilateraly because it has its own department of health.

Williamson and Sumner counties followed suit on Monday using authority granted them last Friday by Gov. Bill Lee. Montgomery County limited its mandate to the employees of companies who deal directly with customers.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto tried to make masks mandatory at the end of June, but quickly realized he lacked the authority to do so. He’s widely expected to renew the order this week.

Rutherford County officials say they won't make masks mandatory. It's a notable exception among the mid-state's most populous counties. The county has the third highest COVID-19 case count in the state, trailing only far larger Davidson and Shelby counties.

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron last week issued a statement noting he couldn’t issue a mask order without the governor’s authorization. This week Mayor Ketron declined to issue such an order saying he believes residents will do the right thing without county officials “forcing their hand.”

Cannon, Cheatham, Coffee, and Maury counties will also not order residents to wear masks.

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