I've left good ole boy Bill Ketron alone for a while. These are trying time, and we are all doing our best. But then he went and bowed to public pressure.
On Monday, Sept. 21 (at 4 p.m.), Ketron issued a statement saying he would lift the mask requirement for the county. Just as the number of daily cases were showing consistent improvement, he decides that instead of waiting a few weeks until the end of the month, he would just go ahead and lift the mandate the next day.
"It has almost been six months since we started this COVID-19 journey. We have learned a lot even though the landscape has been and continues to change almost daily. Your compliance with the order which went into effect on July 22, had a significant impact on our numbers going down. This was hard to ignore. We are encouraged by the data trends and want to continue down that path! This does not discount the fact that the virus is here and not going anywhere anytime soon. Therefore, I am asking that as a community, we revert once more to being #Rutherford Responsible," the county mayor said in a written statement.
Because asking people to be responsible worked so well the last time.
Ketron said that "the combination of wearing masks, washing hands, and other recommended health practices (i.e. social distancing) and not just one specific protective measure" helps curb the spread of COVID. So that means telling people not to do one of those things is a good idea?
At least, he told everyone to respect the rules at local businesses.
"We cannot afford to shut them down again. Some of them will not survive a second time around," Ketron said.
At least that's one thing we agree on.
Local businesses have struggled since March. From the quarantine to people limiting their outings to avoid the virus, business has been slow for six months now. One BERC report called things "dreadful" in the second quarter.
But the way to fix the economy is not to tell people not to wear masks. That will only prolong the pain as it will likely encourage the spread of COVID again.
Here are the numbers since July 20.