From the Desk of County Executive T.R. Williams

The Coronavirus has rattled and deeply divided our community and I wish to explain my position.


I'm in regular contact with Health officials concerning this pandemic. The hot spots are coming primarily from family gatherings, private parties and people that won't stay home to quarantine when they've come in contact with someone that has tested positive. The surge we're seeing now is a result of Thanksgiving gatherings.

We have put so much emphasis on masks that people feel invincible when they wear them. Cloth masks are about 30% efficient. Disposable masks (which are the most effective) are designed to be worn only once and then disposed. They aren't being disposed and are being worn for extended periods of time. Masks aren't being worn properly. Wearing them below the nose or on the chin doesn't help.

While I do believe that masks (worn properly) help, I don't believe wearing a mask apart from the other things we're instructed to do like social distancing, sanitizing and staying home is having much impact.

Wayne County has implemented a mask mandate. I'm watching their numbers and I have not seen any change in their positivity rate. Their positivity rate was actually higher than Lawrence County's last week. At this point, the mandate doesn't appear to have had any impact.

We've had several cases in our local nursing homes. How did patients catch this virus with every employee wearing a mask, gloves, and gowns and sanitizing the facility with patients quarantined to their rooms? Several of the deaths we've seen have come from nursing homes. We've had people that contacted the virus while they were patients in area hospitals, admitted for unrelated treatments.

Let me explain what's happening in our county. People that have missed work due to quarantine and missed pay checks as a result, are no longer quarantining. They are going to work and just not telling anyone they've been exposed. They can't afford to stay home any longer.

People are going to private parties and wedding receptions and not social distancing. It is impossible to monitor those gatherings. The Governor's new Executive Order that doesn't allow more than 10 people to gather is impossible to monitor and enforce.

The Governor's statement, "Don't misunderstand my belief in local government on this issue. Masks work and I want every Tennessean to wear one,” was not implying that he had delegated anything else to us in regard to placing limits/restrictions on business and restaurants. His Executive Order still supersedes local government.

His statement that 70% of Tennesseans are already under a mask mandate was incorrect. Only about a dozen of the 95 counties have enacted one. That's a far cry from 70%.

I have no intentions of FORCING the citizens of Lawrence County to do anything. I am however strongly ENCOURAGING our citizens to follow the CDC guidelines. If governments FORCE the citizens to do things, where do you think that might lead or end? This is about taking personal responsibility for our own actions.

My advice to you is to follow the CDC guidelines, social distance, sanitize, wear a mask when in public and stay home unless it's absolutely necessary to get out. I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas.