CHATTANOOGA – As Chattanooga continues to climb national ranks for COVID-19 spread, Mayor Andy Berke is asking the state for the authority to mandate masks in public and to extend an executive order allowing virtual public meetings.

During a virtual press conference Friday, Berke said he is looking for ways to curtail the spread of the virus as cases and deaths continue to rise in and around the city, landing Chattanooga at No. 2 on The New York Times list of places with the highest average daily growth in the COVID-19 death rate.

“I can’t stand seeing us in the spotlight for anything negative,” Berke said. “More importantly, though, is what it represents. The particular category that we’re highlighted in is number of deaths and that is an extremely sobering statistic. You do not want to be at the top of that list.”