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Choctaw Nation reinstates mask mandate at health facilities

July 17, 2021 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has reinstated a mask requirement for visitors at tribal health facilities.

Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority announced on Facebook Friday that all visitors must wear a mask and placed limits the number of visitors a patient is allowed.

“Due to the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases in ... Oklahoma, it has become necessary to reinstate some of the previous visitor restrictions to ensure the safety of our patients and staff,” according to the statement.

A spokesperson for the tribe did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases in Oklahoma increased from 224.7 per day on July 1 to 560.7 on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, ranking Oklahoma ninth in the nation with 155.3 new cases per 100,000 residents.

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State health officials have pleaded for Oklahomans to become vaccinated and said cases due to the highly contagious delta variant are likely moving into Oklahoma from Arkansas and Missouri, which rank first and second in the nation in new cases per capita.

The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 46% of the state’s population has received at least one vaccine dose and 39.4% are fully vaccinated.