JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — Just one day after Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy issued an order requiring the use of face masks inside county public buildings, county employees were seen not wearing masks.
“I’m disappointed,” Grandy said. “This was the first day of the mandate, of the order, and so people needed time maybe to get masks or whatever.”
The mayor’s order came as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Northeast Tennessee.
“We’re definitely seeing cases of COVID-19 increasing, hospitalizations are increasing, so it is a concern,” Grandy said. “And we thought that we would begin with our own county offices.”
The mandate requires face coverings in Washington County and Johnson City offices, including the Historic Courthouse and Justice Center.
“Once they’re in their space, we have created social distancing for them,” Grandy said. “The clerk’s office- a lot of the desk cubicles have had Plexiglas arranged between the people where social distancing wasn’t possible.”
There are several exceptions to the mask mandate. Children under 12 years of age and those with certain health conditions are exempt. As well as if a face-covering poses a safety or security threat.
News Channel 11 showed Mayor Grandy video of guards in the Justice Center not wearing masks.
“With respect to the safety and security issue- I think one of the things that the security people in the Justice Center have the opportunity to do is under this clause that the governor put in his order that we also put in this order,” Grandy said. “It gives them the opportunity to, if they feel like this is a security risk, then they can have some flexibility.”
Viewers also reached out saying that bailiffs and people in court were not complying.
“At the Justice Center there’s a lot of space, the Clerk’s office space, the judges chambers’ and so forth,” Grandy said. “The judges will be free to monitor their courtrooms as they see fit with respect to masks.”
News Channel 11’s Anslee Daniel reached out to Sheriff Graybeal to ask if he thought the mask mandate posed a security risk and to determine whether his employees would be wearing them going forward. She has not received a response.
Mayor Grandy plans to address the issue with all departments and employees Thursday morning. While there is no official way to file a complaint, he says anyone is welcome to email or call his office.
Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.