Memphis City Council asks health department for mask mandate


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – In the face of rising Covid cases, Memphis City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday afternoon asking the Shelby County Health Department to issue a mask mandate.

The last countywide mask mandate expired in May, but in the last month, the Delta variant has caused seven-day daily case averages to quadruple.  

July 12, the health department reported a daily average of 105 new cases. Tuesday, they reported an average of 430 cases each day. 

“We’re like, right now, in an accelerating part of the curve,” said council member Dr. Jeff Warren who introduced the resolution. 

Warren tested positive last week for Covid-19, even though he notes he had been vaccinated.  

City Council wants a new mandate to apply to indoor settings and to everyone regardless of vaccination status. 

“One of the things that I think is really confusing to people is that six weeks ago, eight weeks ago, I was telling people, look, the CDC says you don’t need a mask indoors if you’ve been vaccinated. You can go sing in your church choir if you’ve been vaccinated. But that was before Delta hit,” said Warren.  

In a health directive issued Tuesday, the health department recommended mask wearing indoors, but stopped short of mandating it.  

The department didn’t respond to WREG’s requests for comment on the city’s resolution.  

Some were less than enthusiastic about the prospect of masks returning. 

“It’s actually quite refreshing not to be walking around with a mask on,” said Mark Fulcher. 

But others are more receptive to the idea. 

“The delta variant is so transmissible,” said Mary May, adding that masks are “the only way we’re gonna get rid of this.”  

The original resolution before City Council called on Mayor Jim Strickland to issue a mask mandate, but the city’s legal team advised that he didn’t have the authority to do so. 

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