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Tulsa Health Board Member Calls for Additional Steps to Contain COVID

City of Tulsa

A Tulsa Board of Health member said not limiting capacity at restaurants is likely contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Tulsa Health Department contact tracers have not singled out restaurants as a significant source of transmission. But Dr. Sarah-Anne Schumann told city councilors on Wednesday with the number of local doctors talking about patients reporting they thought they were exposed in restaurants or bars, it’s possible people aren’t being honest with the health department.

Schumann said officials should encourage outdoor dining and consider capping indoor capacity.

"Looking nationally at what other places are doing around restaurants and around gatherings, I think we need to be more restrictive. We don’t necessarily have to be as restrictive as what the White House task force says, but I think if we don’t do more, we’re going to end up with a shutdown," Schumann said.

The White House coronavirus task force recommends Tulsa and other "red zone" locations limit restaurant capacity to 25%.

While Tulsa’s mask mandate is working to reduce the spread of COVID-19, that does not mean it’s ideal. Schumann said the age when masks are required under Tulsa’s ordinance needs to be lowered.

"Eighteen is too high. Oklahoma City, the age is 11 right now. In Texas, the age is 10. So, I would love to see a discussion of decreasing our age to the Texas or in Oklahoma City 10 or 11," Schumann said.

Schumann said the mask requirement should also be extended until Tulsa County’s positive test rate and number of new cases decrease, and that local officials must do better with educational efforts to increase the rate of mask wearing among Tulsans.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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