Mask Up Oklahoma

Oklahoma needs a state wide mask mandate. Now.


Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Conner Carlow, Staff Writer

Oklahoma has been ranked the top fifth state when it comes to new cases of COVID-19, according to a report by the White House COVID Task Force, yet there is still no statewide mask mandate to curb this issue.

Oklahoma needs to implement a mandatory statewide mask mandate, which would help significantly decrease our already high numbers of COVID-19 cases. Oklahoma counties and cities who have implemented mask mandates have shown improvement in numbers, and other states who have implemented statewide mandates have proven effective.

The same White House Task Force which listed Oklahoma as the top fifth, has recommended to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt that “age-segmented and geographic relevant messaging to help Oklahoman’s protect themselves from COVID-19, including wearing face masks” should be implemented.

Early indicators show the face mask mandates adopted by some Oklahoma cities to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are working. Data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows cities with mask mandates cut their average number of new COVID-19 infections after just three weeks. On July 20, the average number of new COVID-19 cases in cities with mask ordinances was 457. By Aug. 12, that number had dropped 47 percent to only 233 cases.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott implemented a statewide mask mandate despite opposition from his own party, and experts say it’s working. Dr. Rajesh Nandy at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth released a report which shows that hospital visits and the rate of spread, while still high, is flattening in North Texas.

Stitt said in a press conference that he will leave the mandatory mask mandate up to local communities, as he believes every community is different. However, with Oklahoma numbers as high as they are, and local governments failing to protect their communities, Oklahoma should consider a mask mandate similar to that of Texas. The Texas mandate stated that Children younger than 10, any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering, or those living in counties that have established with the state that they have low COVID-19 infections, are exempt from the mandate. This solution would prevent ‘punishing’ counties with low numbers, while also slowing the spread of counties with high infection rates.

Oklahoma needs to follow the example of other states and recommendations by the White House, to protect its people by imposing a statewide mask mandate.