Andy Berke
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#MaskUpCHA

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. While we may not have enjoyed the festive large gatherings that usually accompany the Fourth of July, I hope that you and your family were able to spend some time reflecting on the values that make our country so special: responsibility, sacrifice, and determination in the face of adversity. We’re certainly going to need those qualities as we adjust to life under the COVID-19 virus. 

Earlier this week, State public health officials announced 2,472 new infections, setting a new single-day record for the fourth time in just two weeks. In Hamilton County, we’ve seen more than 400 new cases and six deaths since last Thursday. As the Tennessean reports, this week saw the single worst day so far for new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations across our state.

We’ve got to do better.

The harsh reality is that the virus is going to be with us for a long time. For the health and safety of our economy and each other, we have got to take it seriously. 

Beginning tomorrow, everyone in Hamilton County, which includes the City of Chattanooga, will be required to wear a facemask in public. There is unanimous consensus by the medical community that wearing a facemask can reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many cities across Tennessee and around the country have already implemented measures to require them in businesses and public spaces. 

Mayor Jim Coppinger has done the right thing by issuing a mask mandate for our community. I appreciate his leadership here and we’ll do everything we can to make sure this directive is followed. Our health depends on it. 

I know people are tired of talking about COVID-19, and trust me, I’m ready to talk about new things too. But it would be a disservice to dismiss the dire impact this pandemic is having on Chattanoogans. In the last month, we have seen this virus claim the lives of infants, small children, senior citizens, and otherwise healthy adults. We’re all in this together, and I know that Chattanoogans will do what we need to do to keep each other safe and healthy. 

As we adjust to this new mask mandate in our community, I hope you’ll share your mask selfie with me via Twitter or Facebook and use the hashtag #MaskUpCHA.

If you have questions about the new mask mandate — or anything else — don’t forget that I’ll be on Facebook Live this evening at 5:30 p.m. Drop me a line at mayor@chattanooga.gov and let me know what’s on your mind.

Thank you and stay safe,