This week, Governor Kevin Stitt said he would not issue a statewide mask mandate despite the continued rise in positive COVID-19 cases.
"We're maxed out. Our ICU has no beds,” Comanche County Memorial Hospital chief medical officer Dr. Scott Michener said. “We are holding intensive care in our emergency room. We've made a makeshift intensive care unit in our recovery room. Our nurses are triple-loaded. Our respiratory therapists are double-loaded. It's really, really bad.”
This is the reality for Dr. Michener in southwest Oklahoma. It could soon be the same in the metro.
"Every hospital in the state I know of is continually trying to reinvent the wheel here. We are running out of space," said Dr. David Chansolme with Integris Health.
In the last seven days, Oklahoma recorded more than 21,000 COVID-19 cases and another 100 deaths.
"We know masks work,” Dr. Chansolme said. “We know masks protect the person talking to someone who has COVID-19.”
Between Aug. 1 and Nov. 10, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported communities with mask mandates saw their COVID-19 numbers increase by 34 percent.
In stark contrast, communities without a mask mandate a 109 percent increase of COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Michener said public officials must enforce masking.
"It is about public health. This is not political," Dr. Michener said. "A mask mandate is a no brainer. That is a simple thing to do. It's the least intrusive."