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Tulsa Health Department: COVID Trends Improving But 'Too Soon' To Change Mask Recommendations

Roland Leach
U.S. Air Force

Oklahoma is now a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and hospitalizations and new cases keep falling, but health officials are urging people not to get complacent.

Improving trends are not going to change current public health advice on masks.

"We continue to support CDC recommendations and local city ordinances for mask wearing in public. THD will continue to evaluate the data and make data-drive recommendations for Tulsa County residents and municipal leaders. The downward case trends are very encouraging, but it’s too soon for the agency to change our recommendations regarding masks," said Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

Mayor G.T. Bynum agreed with Dart and said action on masks is not forthcoming. The city’s order, which  requires people 10 and older to wear masks in public, expires at the end of April.

"The Tulsa City Council and I will continue to discuss the timing of that expiration with the Tulsa Health Department and local hospital leadership. As of today, none of those advisers believe that we are ready to end our mask order in Tulsa quite yet," Bynum said.

Cases are starting to rise in some states that recently lifted or are about to lift restrictions. Dart has a good reminder for why continuing to wear masks and take other precautions is a good idea.

"The total number of years of potential life lost due to COVID-19 here in Tulsa County was 4,050. I can’t overstate how significant that number is for people," Dart said.

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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