The Honorable Jim Coppinger
The Honorable Andy Berke
The Honorable members of the Hamilton County, TN legislative delegation: Sen. Todd Gardenhire and Bo Watson; Rep. Mike Carter, Yusuf Hakeem, Patsy Hazelwood, Esther Helton, and Robin Smith
Dear Mayors, Senators, and Representatives:
Thank you for your bold leadership!
As healthcare leaders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know first-hand the devastating toll this infection has taken on our residents and our economy. We commend you and your team at the Hamilton County Health Department for your extraordinary work to keep pace with demands for testing and doing all that you can to protect our citizenry.
We especially want to commend you for your bold leadership in mandating masks in public for every resident above the age of 12 in Hamilton County. This infection has been present in our community for at least four months, and our medical professionals are certain that the most important factors to control the risk of person-to-person transmission are masking and social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that cloth face coverings be used as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets containing the novel coronavirus from travelling through the air and infecting others. This recommendation is based on emerging clinical and laboratory evidence that indicates the efficacy of cloth face coverings in reducing person-to-erson transmission of respiratory droplets when one coughs, sneezes, speaks or raises their voice, or exhales.
We are certain that COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. The stealth nature of COVID-19 transmission is the single most important factor to consider in requiring face masks for every resident above the age of 12 until we have this infection under control and are no longer in a state of public emergency. It is a simple, pragmatic solution that will reduce transmission of the disease.
We applaud you for taking a strong stand in mandating the public use of face coverings. It is almost certain that COVID-19 will continue to negatively impact our community for the foreseeable future. We are compelled, as stewards of our community’s health care resources, to strongly advocate for those measures that stem the spread of this virus.
Erlanger Health System, William L. Jackson Jr., MD, MBA, President and CEO
CHI Memorial, Janelle Reilly, Market CEO
Parkridge Health System, Thomas H. Ozburn, FACHE, President and CEO
Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society, Rae Bond, Executive Director