Hundreds of Oklahomans crowded in the state capital on Saturday, to demand their freedom from vaccine and mask mandates — policies which don’t actually exist in the state.
The crowd, chanting shouts of “USA” and “freedom,” filled the rotunda of the building with few wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Many of them wielded signs in support of twice-impeached former President Donald Trump. The capitol building in Oklahoma City is the site of Governor Stitt’s office, the politician whose refusal to issue a state of emergency means that Oklahomans are unlikely to ever face mandates.
The crowd also chose the state capitol building as the location of their rally in order to make their position known to the Oklahoma politicians who may be in support of mask and vaccine mandates.
Protesters compare mandates to communism
One protestor stated, “I do not want to see us be mandated for masks or vaccines because that is our right to choose what’s best for us. So, that’s why I’m here — to support for freedom, to choose.” The protestor would not reveal their name.
Another protestor, Daniel Navejas, used pejoratives to describe the COVID-19 situation across the state. “It’s more of a plan-demic and a scam-demic,” said Mr. Navejas, one of the speakers at the rally. He also insisted that mandates are akin to socialism and communism.
Meanwhile, private organizations in Tulsa have begun reinstating mask mandates in their stores and places of business. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Colorado-based Masterpiece Cake Shop, private entities may create and enforce their own rules.
Private businesses continue mask mandates
Many stores across the city have also hung signs reminding the public that the CDC recommends the use of masks in all indoor buildings and outdoor locations, regardless of vaccination status. The extremely contagious Delta variant has wreaked havoc across Oklahoma, leading to vast community spread of the virus due to low vaccination rates.
Three COVID-19 vaccines, the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are free and available to nearly all Oklahomans over the age of 12. Both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for people over the age of 18, while the Pfizer vaccine is approved for people over the age of 12. Governor Stitt, who continues to insist that Oklahomans are handling the pandemic well, received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March.