A Nashville, Tennessee, councilwoman wants those who don’t wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic to be charged with attempted murder.
Sharon Hurt, an at-large councilwoman of the Nashville Metro Council, joined an Aug. 5 meeting between Public Safety, Beer & Regulated Beverages and Health, Hospitals, & Social Services committees.
“My question goes back to legislation,” she said during the meeting. “But my concern is — you know I work for an organization, that if they pass a virus, then they are tried for murder or attempted murder, if they are not told … and this person who may very well pass this virus that’s out in the air because they’re not wearing a mask is basically doing the same thing to someone who contracts it and dies from it.”
“It seems to me that we have been more reactive, as opposed to proactive, and a little too late, too little. So, my thing is, maybe there should be legislation, stronger legislation, I don’t know if Mike Jameson is … can speak to it, but maybe there needs to be stronger legislation to say that if you do not wear a mask and you subject exposure of this virus to someone else then there will be some stronger penalty as it is in other viruses that are exposed,” she added.
Director of legislative affairs for the mayor’s office, Mike Jameson, responded by saying that the city council doesn’t have the authority to create criminal legislation.
“The council does not have the opportunity on its own to create criminal legislation, that is a state creature. We’re warranted by state law, to apply criminal application to violations, just for example, as the state law allows us to apply a Class E misdemeanor to violate a health director violation,” Jameson said. “But, in terms of creating a new code, or class of criminal offenses, that is a creature of state law.”
“I was afraid that was going to be the answer,” Hurt responded. “I guess that’s the whole point of asking for something to be done as early as the Council was pushing. It seems it was not taken as seriously as it should have been and thus we are in the situation we are in right now.”
Hurt’s comments come as some states push for stronger mask mandates, including in Indiana, where Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a mask-wearing mandate at the end of July. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Indiana’s Statehouse in Indianapolis over the weekend to denounce the face mask requirement.
So far, in the United States, there have been 5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 162,455 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.