Tennessee mayor contracts COVID after refusing to issue mask mandate unless the 'Holy Spirit' moved him
Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman. (Facebook)

Tennessee Mayor Bill Newman has tested positive for the novel coronavirus this Friday after making headlines for saying that he wouldn't order a mask mandate for his town unless the Holy Spirit told him to do so, AL.com reports.

Newman, who's the mayor of Lincoln County, has rejected calls for a mask mandate, saying that he prefers to be guided by his Christian faith.

"[The virus] is science, and it's true; and I do believe masking helps prevent the spread of it. But I don't feel I should mandate people wearing masks at this time," he said back in November.

"The Holy Spirit dwells within us," he continued. "It's a heart thing. It's not a mind thing. But you're using all your God-given [talents], your physical or mental or spiritual, all those things. When I pray for guidance, I may not know the answer immediately."

Speaking to AL.com, Newman's secretary, Dora Barnes, said that despite his recent diagnosis, he still feels "the same way."

Face masks remain optional in Lincoln County. Despite surging levels of the virus, there is still no statewide mask mandate in Tennessee.