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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday he is not considering a state-wide mask mandate.

Speaking for the first time in a week, Tennessee governor Bill Lee sang the praises of mask safety.

“It’s been shown that there’s improvement with wearing masks. It also engages people and gives them confidence to go out,” Lee said.

And still, as many elected officials change their stance, favoring facial coverings, Lee remains adamant that no state-wide mask mandate is being considered.

“A mandate is simply a mandate. It doesn’t equate to mask wearing,” Lee said.

While he acknowledges rising COVID numbers, and the benefits of masks, Lee claims a targeted approach will be more effective for overall compliance. He’s relying on local officials to understand their areas the best.

“There’s a great deal of trust at the local leadership,” Lee said. “So that targeted approach, we believe, is the best way to actually get people to engage in mask wearing more effectively than a state-wide one-size fits all mandate.”

Thanks to mandates at the local level, about two-thirds of Tennessee is already required to wear facial coverings, including Memphis and Nashville, the state’s two largest hot spots.

Lee actually encouraged local leaders to employ facial covering requirements if they deem cases and rates to be headed in a dangerous direction.

“They clearly ought to consider, and local leadership should consider, mask requirements in that county,” Lee said.

Lee’s next public comments are scheduled for next Tuesday, July 28.

Tennessee is currently reporting 86,987 total cases of coronavirus in the state. The Tennessee Department of Health reported  2,570 new cases and 37 new deaths Thursday.

Read more: TDH: 2,570 new COVID-19 cases, 37 additional deaths in Tennessee