Muskogee's mask mandate goes into effect Wednesday night and healthcare workers say they feel they can breathe a little easier.
"I had a huge sense of relief kind of emotional," Michelle Keeling told News on 6, describing her reaction when then Muskogee city council passed a mask mandate last night. As the Vice President of Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee, she has advocated for the mandate since day one.
"I personally felt a huge responsibility to advocate for the healthcare workforce," Keeling added.
Keeling says the hospital has been struggling with ICU bed and staffing shortages. The mandate has relieved some stress. "It says a lot to the people that are on the front lines that we do here and then we do care," Keeling said.
Mayor Marlon Coleman says he has mixed emotions about last night's vote. "I really don't consider last night a victory because as long as we have the threat of Covid the only way we will be victorious is when it's totally defeated," Coleman admitted.
The mandate requires everyone ages 10 and up to wear masks when entering any place of business.
However, there are no fines or penalties other than a possible trespassing call to police.
After six weeks of voting, Mayor Coleman says he’s glad the council came together and did something to keep residents safe.
”I think ultimately would make people change their minds was we can’t do nothing that something had to be done even if it’s not the best product that was finally time to take some type of action to try and slow the spread,” Coleman said.
Coleman also said even though the council agreed that the city is still not completely sold on masks.
"So crafting out what we thought was a compromise even though it passed, there's a lot of healing to be done in the community because so many people are so divided about it," Coleman added.
The mandate goes into effect tomorrow at midnight and lasts until January 25th of next year.