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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is among the 29 organizations and businesses partnering with Governor Bill Lee’s Economic Recovery Group to distribute more than 250,000 free and low-cost cloth face coverings across the state.

“Wearing a mask is about protecting those around us, and it’s only when everyone is committed to this simple act that we are able to significantly reduce the spread of the virus,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “It is a prime example of how Vols help Vols, and by doing so protect one another. That’s why we will be distributing two masks and a gaiter to every member of our campus community.”

an illustration of a man wearing an orange and white checkerboard gaiter made by Bacon and Company

“Tennesseans have stepped up to do their part and keep their neighbors safe throughout this health crisis,” said Mark Ezell, director of the Economic Recovery Group.

“The more we can celebrate masks and make them fun, the more lives we ultimately protect. These businesses are the heart and soul of Tennessee, and we’re grateful to them for helping our citizens stay healthy and have a little fun sporting their favorite brands while they’re at it.”

The CDC recently released new guidance for public events and gatherings, strongly encouraging wearing masks to lower the risk of exposure and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

As Tennessee safely continues to reopen the economy and residents and travelers move about the state, masks have become a crucial health accessory.

Participants chose how to best display pride in their brand or Tennessee, and many opted to include either the Tristar emblem or the phrase “Tennessee Strong.” Each participant will distribute branded cloth face coverings at little to no cost across their own channels, which may include employees, fans, or partnering institutions. The only requirement for participants was willingness to help get branded masks into communities throughout Tennessee.

gray mask with orange Power Ts


Other participating organizations and businesses are Amazon, Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Bridgestone, Bristol Motor Speedway, Chevrolet, East Tennessee State University, Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee, FedEx Express, Graceland, Jack Daniel’s, Lipscomb University (courtesy of the Ezell Foundation), Memphis Grizzlies, Middle Tennessee State University, Nashville Predators, Nashville SC (courtesy of Ingram Charities, distributed in partnership with United Way of Greater Nashville), Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc., SomethingInked, Tennessee Bankers Association, Tennessee Tech University, Tennessee Titans, Tractor Supply Company, TriStar Health, Union University, University of Memphis, Unum Group, and Vanderbilt University.

Tennessee began a phased reopening under the Tennessee Pledge, a plan to help Tennesseans get back to work safely and reboot the economy. Restaurants resumed business with limited capacity on April 27, quickly followed by a number of additional industries enabling tens of thousands of Tennesseans to return to work.