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"Masks are the workhouse": Knox Co. Board of Health decides not to limit gatherings again

Doctors emphasized this is not the time for people to let their guard down, but said it did not want such measures to erode trust in the community.

The Knox County Board of Health took an optimistic tone during its meeting Wednesday, saying current measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are starting to pay off. 

The board decided to hold off on voting on a proposal that would limit the size of gatherings again, saying the success of masks and increasing community adherence to the core actions of personal social distancing and hand washing have clearly made a difference. 

The proposed rules would have limited group gatherings and social settings to 25 people or less, but would not have applied to schools or places of worship. 

The Board of Health said it realized the proposal caused a lot of "angst," saying it had received numerous emails and feedback over it.

After discussing the proposal, the board agreed the measure wasn't needed at this time given recent reductions in active and new cases. Doctors emphasized this is not the time for people to let their guard down, but said it did not want such measures to erode trust in the community.

Before tabling the proposal, the board discussed the current mask rules and looked at how effective it has been. The consensus was that masks have been particularly effective.

"Masks are the workhorse," UT Dr. James Shamiyeh said, urging that continued adherence to the 5 core actions as school resumes will be crucial in continuing the downward coronavirus trends. 

"Hospitalizations have been down. It doesn't mean we're in the clear, but it's what we want to see," he said.

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