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MANDATORY: Mayor Bynum says he's asking for a mask ordinance at the request of the health department

Posted at 1:14 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 23:26:57-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said he is drafting an ordinance requiring face coverings in public places.

This comes as coronavirus cases continue to increase in the state of Oklahoma and the city of Tulsa.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health website, four of the five zip codes with the most COVID-19 cases are in the Tulsa metro area.

On Friday, Bynum posted that Dr. Dart with the Tulsa Health Department notified him the continued trend of COVID-19 data shows the need for an ordinance requiring face coverings in public for Tulsa County.

I have said if and when Dr. Dart recommends a mask requirement, based on trend data, I would proceed to put one in place. Today he made that recommendation and today I have directed the City Legal Department to draft an ordinance for consideration by the Tulsa City Council at their meeting next Wednesday.
Mayor G.T. Bynum

Dr. Dart issued a statement on the importance of wearing a face covering.

We have been monitoring the data and following the trends throughout this response. Today, Tulsa County reached a record high in 7-day rolling averages. Our previous 14-day case trend is increasing, and hospitalizations among Tulsa County residents have been increasing as well. Without further efforts, we will not see a sustained decrease in disease transmission. The science is clear that the use of cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. Therefore, I recommend city municipalities take action to put a mask ordinance in place requiring face covering in public places to lessen the spread in our community. This recommendation is a comprehensive data-driven decision as we continue to see trends moving up. I will be speaking with all of the City Mayors in Tulsa County on Tuesday to make the same recommendation.
Dr. Bruce Dart | Tulsa Health Department Executive Director

Bynum said an ordinance will be drafted and completed by Monday, July 13. From there, Dr. Dart will meet with city councilors next week prior to Wednesday.

Officials with the City of Tulsa said the ordinance will be voted on Wednesday, July 15. The ordinance needs a majority vote to pass. Since there are nine council members, the ordinance will need five or more votes to pass. HERE is a list of the city councilors voting on the ordinance and how they can be contacted.

Bynum said he will share the ordinance as soon as it becomes available.

Tulsans gave their opinion of the possible ordinance.

Hany Elsayed thinks the mandate should already be in place.

“We were late," Elsayed said. "And delayed.”

Amanda Baskeyfield agrees. She said she has several friends and neighbors who have or had COVID-19. She also works in a hospital and wears a mask eight hours a day.

“Yeah, it’s uncomfortable, but honestly, it’s worth the discomfort to me," Baskeyfield said.

Both said they wear their masks everywhere and think others should do the same to protect those around them.

“They may not know that they are infected," Elsayed said. "They could be asymptomatic and they don’t know when the symptoms are going to appear.”

“Even if it’s just a small amount of limiting it, it’s some," Baskeyfield said. "And, like I said, it could potentially affect someone’s life that you don’t know might have been affected.”

We spoke with two men who did not wish to go on camera, but both said they don’t think masks are necessary. One said he just doesn’t like wearing one. The other said he doesn’t think it will make a difference, but would wear one if it made others comfortable.

The debate over masks around the country becoming controversial; however, back here in Tulsa, Elsayed said it shouldn’t be that way.

“Regardless of whether you’re Republican or Democrat or whatever political party you belong to, I think this is a safety health issue," Elsayed said. "We should all stick with the recommendations from the scientist.”

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