Hamilton County mayor decries state stripping of local public health powers

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Janette Richie replaces the mask requirement sign at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Friday, November 5, 2021.

Measures passed in Nashville late last month during a special legislative session would revoke many of Hamilton County's rights to make its own decisions about how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

The bills await action by Gov. Bill Lee, but should they become law they will mean the county cannot determine when or for how long to implement a mask mandate. Authority to quarantine a person or business in response to COVID-19 would shift to the state.

The choice by state legislators, including nearly all members of Hamilton County's delegation, to move key decision-making powers from counties with independent health departments to Nashville angered some local officials, including Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

"It was a little disappointing to me to see the state want to take that authority away from local governments," Coppinger said.