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Tulsa mayor criticizes nearby cities without mask mandate

December 9, 2020 GMT

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Wednesday he’s disgusted that some cities, particularly in the Tulsa area, have not mandated mask wearing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Cities with mask ordinances listened to medical professionals, Bynum said, suggesting city leaders in some other municipalities who opposed mask mandates took advice from “Facebook epidemiologists who can cite some sham website and claim that makes them an expert on the value of mask wearing.”

Many Tulsa suburbs have adopted mask ordinances, but officials in nearby Broken Arrow on Nov. 23 rejected a proposal to strongly encourage mask wearing.

A spokesperson for Broken Arrow did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

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The White House Coronavirus Task Force report released by state health officials on Wednesday noted the fall and winter surge of the coronavirus is now spreading wider and more rapidly than since the pandemic began in March.

“Despite the severity of this surge and the threat to the hospital systems, many state and local governments are not implementing the same mitigation policies that stemmed the tide of the summer surge; that must happen now,” the report states.

The task force recommends limiting restaurant indoor capacity to below 25%, closing bars or limiting bar hours and requiring masks in all public spaces. Gov. Kevin Stitt last month limited bar hours and ordered restaurants to space tables six feet apart, but has resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 2,307 new cases Wednesday and 23 more deaths for totals of 222,993 confirmed cases and 1,945 deaths, with 1,745 hospitalizations.

The seven-day rolling average of coronavirus cases in the state returned to above 3,000, despite a recent decline, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The rolling average fell from 3,171 cases per day on Nov. 24 to 3,029 Tuesday after dropping to 2,949 per day Monday.

The true number of infections in Oklahoma is likely higher because many haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.