Health officials concerned by hospitalizations, issue mask mandate in Madison Co.

JACKSON, Tenn. — Local officials announced a new mask mandate for Madison County.

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“We are issuing a mask mandate that will become effective at midnight tonight,” said Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department Director Kim Tedford.

It’s the largest spike in Madison County since the pandemic: 151 new cases on Friday.

In response, officials announced a mask mandate for the second time in the pandemic.

“Looking at the dates of those tests in that 151 number, all of those have been tested within the last seven days. Those are current cases, not old cases or a backlog,” Tedford said.

With the holiday season ahead of us, health officials are concerned about this rise in numbers before a time where families gather and people celebrate. They recommend changing up celebrations to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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“We have got to do the things that we’ve been asking people in the community to do if we want to get through this pandemic, and to be able to get back to life as normal,” Tedford said.

“Every person wearing a mask, or every person not wearing a mask, has an impact on these numbers in this community,” said Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris.

Several officials encouraged following the mask mandate to help keep businesses and the economy open.

“Let’s make sure that we continue to support the businesses in our communities and in West Tennessee because the mask mandate is designed to prevent it from getting worse,” said Jackson Chamber CEO Kyle Spurgeon.

Health officials say the mask mandate is in place through December 29 at 11:59 p.m., unless modified or withdrawn.

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“It has been concerning for the past few weeks, as in the hospital setting, we have continued to see a rise in the number of cases,” said West Tennessee Healthcare President and CEO James Ross.

In Friday’s COVID-19 update, besides implementing the new mask mandate, health officials raised concerns about hospitalizations in the area from COVID-19.

“Folks, when our hospital struggles, that should affect each and every one of us in the community, and outlying communities as well,” Tedford said.

Tedford adds that at least 25 cases in Madison County are hospitalized, with five on a ventilator.

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Hospitals are not only caring for COVID-19 patients, but the usual patients seeking medical care. Ross says the uptick makes doing patient transfers difficult.

“These quaternary level hospitals are on what they call ‘critical advisory,’ and they are limiting being able to accept transfers from us,” Ross said.

“That has caused us to put in motion to where we’re not able to accept a person that’s admitted in another hospital, particularly those in rural West Tennessee, to be transferred to us,” he said.

Mayor Scott Conger strongly encouraged citizens to wear their mask for those who are on the front lines.

“We all post on social media, we all talk about how we love our healthcare workers and our frontline workers. It’s time that we start acting like we love our healthcare workers, like we appreciate our front line workers,” he said.

Mayor Conger also mentioned that virtual meetings are helpful for many residents to continue to go to work, but healthcare workers and first responders are unable to use those methods day-to-day.

Categories: COVID-19 Updates, Local News, News