Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron is resuming the countywide mask mandate effective first thing Thursday morning.

Ketron made the announcement Monday afternoon. It takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night, so effectively it will be in place on Thursday.

“This is not a decision that I make lightly,” Ketron said in a statement. “Our cases in this county hit a record spike over the weekend, with the data indicating a higher transmission rate than that we experienced in late July.”

Local data shows that current cases are 2.8 times the level in early September, with the seven-day average positive rate also doubling since that time, Ketron said.

“These figures are too significant to overlook,” said Ketron. “Hospital officials are beginning to see the number of cases in-house similar to the height of the first wave. We have to act now.”

The mayor first mandated masks July 22-Aug. 3, but renewed it. The renewal was scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, but Ketron ended it early at 5 p.m. Sept. 22.

Ketron’s mandates are based on a series of executive orders issued by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, which authorize county mayors to issue countywide rules. Last week Lee said he would likely extend that authority to 89 county mayors – including Ketron – through the end of 2020; the current authority goes through the end of Oct. 30. Six county health departments work under local control.

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