KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Although Knox County's stay-home-order is up, Knox County Health Department Director Martha Buchanan said we should keep wearing masks.
"Wearing masks and face coverings in public protects the people around you and vice versa," she said in Tuesday's briefing.
But she also said you don't want to be lax when it comes to social distancing.
"The community taking responsibility for social distancing is a big piece of our plan," she added.
Over the weekend, a 10News reporter took this picture in the Fort Sanders neighborhood. It shows a large group of people -- none of whom appear to be wearing masks.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon called the pictures "very disturbing."
"One asymptomatic person can attend a party and inadvertently infect dozens of others, who in turn, may infect their families and many others with whom they come into contact. Even healthy young people can have really bad cases of this disease, and for some it is deadly," she said. "This is why I support the guidelines issued by our Governor and our public health officials. College students are not immune and need to be smart and stay apart.”
We asked Buchanan to elaborate on the dangers of large groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's unfortunate when people don't choose to (social distance), because what they are doing is putting out entire community at risk -- not just yourself, the entire community," Buchanan said.
She said big meet-ups will slow the county's recovery process -- possibly lengthening the amount of time certain businesses need to stay closed.
"It's not just their own personal health they are risking," she added. She said it's not just the people who attend social distancing who are at risk -- it's all of the people they could spread the virus to afterwards. That includes older or at-risk family members and strangers.
We also asked about enforcement.
"When it comes to isolated incidents of people gathering, that's not something we can police," the director said.
She added she cannot issue fines but she can send a court directive.
"That's a sternly worded letter that asks the company or the individual to comply," Buchanan said.
In a nutshell, if you are wondering whether or not you should have people over to begin with, Buchanan said it goes back to the key things we already know.
"You can invited people over, but you need to be 6 feet apart," the director said.