As Governor Kevin Stitt is quarantining at his home after testing positive for COVID-19, an association representing thousands of Oklahoma medical professionals is calling on him to enact a statewide mask mandate.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association’s 4,000 physicians and medical students voted to publicly call for a statewide order.
“We’re starting to get overwhelmed,” OSMA President Dr. George Monks said. “The hospital capacity is starting to get tight and physicians are asking Governor Stitt to give us some relief by trying to slow the virus down by implementing a face mask mandate.”
“(I’m) not thinking about a mask mandate at all,” Stitt said after announcing his diagnosis.
Stitt said a mandate would be unenforceable.
“Are we going to put people in jail? What if the mask falls under somebody's nose what if it was not a mask that you expected them to wear?” Stitt asked.
“Well no, don't arrest people for not wearing masks hand them a citation,” Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation President Dr. Stephen Prescott said. “It can be done we do many, many things with our legal system that are not easy to enforce.”
Prescott is also calling for a statewide mandate.
“It’s not based on any kind of politics, it's crystal clear this virus has no politics,” he said.
The governor said the low death rate doesn’t rise to the level of needing a statewide order.
“Remember, the exact same things were true of Texas three weeks ago,” Prescott said. “It changed fast and now thousands of people are dying, it can change fast here. Let's don't let it do that. Why wait until it changes or gets a lot worse before we go to mandatory face masks? I think now is the time.”
Neighboring states Kansas and Texas both have statewide orders.
When asked whether he regrets not wearing a mask in recent meetings, Stitt said, “no I don’t really second-guess anything.”