Municipalities Broach Topic Of Possible Mask Mandate Return As COVID Cases Rise

Tuesday, August 3rd 2021, 5:07 pm
By: Storme Jones

With COVID-19 numbers continuing to head in the wrong direction, many are asking if mask mandates could make a return.

In Tuesday’s meeting, the Oklahoma City Council didn't directly address a mask mandate. However, it was front of mind Monday night in Stillwater.

“The vaccine is the solution. That’s what ends this pandemic and that’s really what we’re trying to promote right now,” Oklahoma City-County Health Department’s Blaine Bolding said.

Bolding updated the council on COVID-19 vaccination and hospitalization rates.

Councilman Bradley Carter questioned the metrics public health officials are looking at.

“The death rate hasn’t changed?” Carter asked.

“No,” Bolding said.

“We're more worried about the cases than the death rate? I’m confused as to why that matters,” Carter said.

“The original (virus) if only two to three people got it and one percent of people die, that’s less than having eight or nine people catch it and one percent of those people die,” Bolding said.

The health department reports nearly 55% of Oklahoma City residents and 82% of seniors are fully vaccinated.

Up in Stillwater, city councilors had a more direct discussion about the return of a mask mandate.

“This time last year we had a municipal-wide mask mandate when our numbers were much more favorable and our conditions much better off than we are now,” Stillwater Councilman John Medlake said. “That is not up for debate that is a statement of fact.”

Instead, the council unanimously passed a resolution urging citizens to follow CDC guidance.

“You don’t want to listen to us that’s fine -- those (health care workers) back there, they are dealing with people dying in this community every day. They’re holding the hands of these people. They’re having the conversations with their loved ones about what’s happening in this hospital,” Mayor Will Joyce said.

News 9 asked the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition panel of doctors if mask mandates should make a return.

“That’s a good question,” Dr. Jean Hausheer with the Coalition said. “We haven’t, at this moment seen that on the horizon yet but we’re expecting it and are ready to assist in those municipalities as far as face masking goes.”