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Knox Co. health director: businesses can ‘make the decisions themselves’ about COVID

Knox County Health Director Martha Buchanan advises businesses to make their own decisions when it comes to COVID-19 mask mandates.
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:06 PM EDT
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LIVE: Knox County Advisory Board of Health Discusses COVID-19

The Advisory Board of Health is expected to discuss Knox County's rise in COVID-19 cases and possible future restrictions. More: https://bit.ly/2UQ2S9j

Posted by WVLT on Wednesday, July 28, 2021

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Knox County Advisory Health Board met Wednesday afternoon to discuss COVID-19 in Knox County and the possibility of future mask mandates. Dr. Martha Buchanan, the Knox County Health Director spoke on future COVID-19 closures.

“I don’t see anymore mandate closures,” said Health Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. “Closures and challenges won’t be due to any mandate, it’ll be due to disease.”

She added that 45.78 percent of Knox County is fully vaccinated and reiterated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that even the vaccinated wear masks inside.

Buchanan also said that the board is allowing businesses to enforce their own COVID-19 rules.

“We are leaving it up to businesses to make the decisions themselves,” said Buchanan. “At this time, I have concerns about their effectiveness. compliance, the effect on the economy obviously and the potential negative impact of putting a regulation in place and further decreasing people’s willingness to take a vaccine. All of the pollicization and polarization with simple acts of protection and public health really makes us concerned about taking any further actions at this time.”

While the Board of Health is discussing the future of possible mandates, it’s still unclear who has the power to reinstate them.

“So what I can tell you is that this board obviously does not have the authority to issue any mandates or regulations,” said Knox County Deputy Law Director David Sanders. “There was a recently passed statute which states that the health officer of the county has authority to issue regulations for the general health of the county. That is very new and we are still working on trying to interpret it.”

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