Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions on Friday across the state. While the news is welcome to some, local health professional aren't on board with the decision.
Stitt and the Oklahoma State Health Department said the numbers show the state is ready to leave the pandemic in the past.
"This virus will never disappear completely. It's going to be in Oklahoma for a while, but we can get back to normal," Stitt said.
He made the announcement exactly one year to the day COVID-19 shut down the Oklahoma City Thunder game and the rest of the state.
Starting on Friday, social gatherings and youth sporting events will not have to abide by capacity limits.
"I'm also removing the requirements to wear a mask in state buildings," Stitt said.
Officials said low case counts and high vaccine rates are influencing the decision.
"Most of our teachers have had at least one vaccine. Our kids are back in the classroom. All residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities have had an option for a vaccine. That means our most vulnerable population is now protected," Stitt said.
Even though state's COVID numbers are dropping, the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association said it's too soon to let your guard down.
"Look, we have the virus on the ropes, we're winning these battles, we have the momentum, but we can't afford to back away from this virus and let it regain strength," said Dr. George Monks, the Oklahoma State Medical Association's president. "We just got to keep doing what we're doing. Do what we know works, get vaccinated and continue the 3 W's."
Going without a mask, especially indoors, is something Monks warns against. Upcoming spring break festivities could make numbers rise, too.
"The areas this COVID likes to spread are indoor areas where people are sort of packed in," said Monks. "We've seen COVID upticks every time after a major holiday, especially in the younger adults, and so that's another thing we're worried about."
Even though statewide restrictions are lifted, any city mandates are still in effect.