Officials encouraged after ending mandate, discuss virus spread in schools
JACKSON, Tenn. — Last week, Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department director Kim Tedford announced the health department and county leaders were going to leave it up to businesses to decide if they would require masks inside stores in Madison County.
The mask mandate expired Saturday night, meaning Sunday, it was up to the businesses and individual residents.
“It is encouraging to see a lot of businesses continuing to require that for the public before entering, and it’s also encouraging to see a lot of the public continue to wear their mask when they’re in public,” Tedford said.
Many businesses still require masks before entering, and Tedford says that’s exactly what she was hoping to see.
“We just felt like people would continue to do the right thing if they were already doing it, and we felt like businesses would continue to do the right thing, and those that were not going to do it were not going to do it anyway,” Tedford said.
But flu season is still right around the corner.
“This is not the time to become complacent, especially with flu season approaching, the temperatures changing,” Tedford said.
That combination means more time indoors, in close quarters, and more chances to spread the flu and COVID-19.
“We are preparing to see a spike in numbers in the next few weeks because of that,” Tedford said.
And students are slowly returning to school, with five days of in-person learning set to start up on October 19.
Jackson-Madison County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marlon King says there are currently seven students in isolation, 100 students quarantined, along with three employees in isolation and 33 quarantined employees.
“I just appreciate your grace for working with us and understanding that this will happen as we bring students back,” King said.
After receiving multiple calls this week about several of those quarantined employees being from Liberty Tech, we asked Dr. King about those potential cases.
“What we’ve done is follow the protocol and we’ve shared information with the appropriate others around, what we’re supposed to do, and moving forward in making sure that everyone is safe and we slow the spread, but I don’t have the exact number. I don’t,” King said.
Tedford says there are a large number of confirmed cases and quarantines at Union University, but she says she can’t determine if those cases are due to the large number of students enrolled, dorm housing, or other factors.
Tedford also says a new report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force has also listed Madison County and the City of Jackson as “yellow zones” for COVID-19 transmission.