Task force says mask mandate unnecessary

Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, right, answers a question at the Central Oklahoma PPE distribution warehouse where supplies for schools are being distributed Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Oklahoma City. Listening at left is Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

By KEN MILLER Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The White House task force on the coronavirus is no longer recommending a statewide mask mandate in Oklahoma, according to the report released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The report, dated Sunday, instead recommends a mask mandate in urban areas and in counties where students and teachers in public schools have tested positive for the virus.


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The White House task force had recommended a statewide mask mandate in each weekly report since early August.

The report said there were 146 new virus cases per 100,000 population in the last week, compared to a national average of 88 per 100,000.

“Oklahoma is in the red zone for cases, indicating more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week, with the 9th highest rate in the country,” and has the fourth highest percentages of positive tests at more than 10%, according to the report

Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he he will not issue a statewide mandate and the state Board of Education declined to require masks in schools as was proposed by state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

The White House task force had recommended a statewide mask mandate in each weekly report since early August.

RESTAURANT AND BAR LIMITS

The city of Norman is limiting restaurant and bar seating capacities on days when the University of Oklahoma has a home football game in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The City Council on Tuesday voted 7-1 to limit capacity to 75% and require patrons to be seated to be served.

The university previously banned on-campus tailgating and is limiting stadium capacity to about 25% of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium’s more than 86,000 seats.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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