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Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum announced in a Facebook post today that he favors ending the city’s mask mandate at the end of April. Bynum stated that the city’s “trends remain good” and that he would support a recommendation from the Health Department to allow the mandate to expire.
Just last week, CDC Director Walensky said she had a sense of “impending doom” in watching restrictions lifted as cases began rising again.
President Biden also urged continued vigilance following Dr. Walensky’s warning. “I am reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate – please,” the president said.
Tulsa mask mandate in place since July 2020
Tulsa’s mask mandate was first implemented last July, well after the Spring surge and the “super-spreader” Trump rally. Many Tulsa city officials, including Mayor Bynum, urged surrounding communities to also implement mask mandates in an effort to slow the spread. These efforts were largely unsuccessful.
Rates of new COVID-19 cases have dropped by 12% in Tulsa County over the past 14 days, but have risen by 48% statewide. According to the latest data from the New York Times, just 23% of Tulsa County residents have been fully vaccinated.
While the mayor received some praise for the decision, many Tulsans were quick to voice their concern on social media about ending the mask mandate so early.
Tulsans worried about unvaccinated children with health conditions
“Please be mindful that no one under 16 has yet been able to receive the vaccine, including children with complex health issues,” one Tulsan commented. “This relaxation of rules will render them basically homebound.”
Some also took issue with the mayor’s decision to continue the mandate beyond April 30th for service industry workers. “The workers at bars and restaurants don’t spread the virus. Sick people do,” wrote another.
Oklahoma has suffered some of the highest per-capita death and infection rates in the nation over the course of the pandemic. As local officials continue to urge people to get their vaccines, calls continue for all Americans to do their part to keep others safe.
“We remain in a pandemic,” Mayor Bynum said in his post. “It is crucial that everyone who wants to get a vaccine do so. It is crucial that all of us continue to be smart and follow CDC guidelines to protect ourselves and one another.”