Athens is now the latest city to consider a mask ordinance.
The city council met to discuss the possibility of putting a policy in place on Thursday afternoon.
As has been the case with nearly every city or county to discuss a masking policy, there’s a clear divide among residents.
Comments from citizens opposed to an ordinance included:
"What authority does the City of Athens, or any other state or local government organization, have to infringe on the rights of healthy, law abiding citizens?”
“You don't have the right to mandate it for anyone."
There was an equal amount of support from those who are in favor of a masking policy. A coronavirus survivor said he wouldn’t wish it on his worst and enemy and said that we need to take any precautions we can:
"I think whatever precautions -- I wear my mask ... and I'll give you a testimony -- whatever we can do to prevent the spread of this disease."
In this case, the divide is strong enough that the Athens City Council decided it needs more time to discuss the measure before a vote can be made.
"In view of everything that's been said, I think it would be quite unfair for us to come to a rush decision about that this afternoon,” Councilmember Frank Travis said, calling the decision a “tremendous task.”
There is currently no timeline as to when a vote could happen. Travis said it could be in the next few days or next week.
Mayor Ronnie Marks announced during the meeting that he plans to sign an order on Friday that would require city employees to wear masks at work. It would be effective immediately.
Limestone County reported its first coronavirus death Thursday. The county has 525 cases total.
Athens Limestone Hospital reported eight coronavirus in-patients Thursday, 25% of all the hospital’s in-patients.