OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Council voted Tuesday to delay for two weeks a vote on whether to lift a mask mandate imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the state’s largest city.
The mandate, which requires face coverings to be worn in buildings open to the public, was established in July and is set to expire on April 30.
Two council members have proposed ending the mandate early, despite recommendations from city health officials that it remain in place.
“Masks have worked throughout the pandemic and are still working," Dr. Patrick McGough, executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, and Dr. Gary Raskob, chair of the City-County Board of Health, wrote in a letter Tuesday to Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “Getting back to normal is a two-part process, with vaccines and masks working hand-in-hand to keep case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths down, and prevent variant strains of COVID-19 from gaining traction in our community."
Oklahoma health officials are working to quickly roll out COVID-19 vaccines, and on Monday opened up eligibility for all Oklahomans age 16 and older, but less than one-third of people in the state have received a first dose of the vaccine, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. McGough and Raskob noted that in Oklahoma County, only about 50% of those who are 65 and older have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 121 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths, bringing the statewide totals to 437,974 confirmed cases and 7,846 deaths.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases and daily deaths in Oklahoma have both declined over the past two weeks, according to CDC data.