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Biden Calls On Governors Like Stitt To 'Do The Right Thing', Allow Schools To Require Masks

The White House
President Joe Biden (far left) meets Monday morning in the Oval Office with members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team.

Addressing reporters from the White House Tuesday afternoon, President Joe Biden pleaded with governors of states, like Oklahoma, that have prohibited schools from requiring masks to mitigate COVID-19 to do more to help the nation in its fight against the coronavirus. 

"As of now, seven states not only ban mask mandates, but also ban them in their school districts, even for young children who cannot get vaccinated," Biden said. "Some states have even banned businesses and universities from requiring workers and students to be masked or vaccinated...  What are we doing?"

"Look, we need leadership from everyone.  And if some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it," Biden said. "I say to these governors, 'Please, help.'

"But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing.  Use your power to save lives."

Biden called the decisions to disallow universal masking requirements in schools "bad health policy."

With COVID hospitalizations skyrocketing in Oklahoma and Tulsa-area hospitals running out of pediatric ICU beds at times this week due to both COVID and RSV, Oklahoma schools -- due to welcome students back to in-person learning this month -- are legally forbidden from requiring masks in school buildings barring an emergency declaration from the governor, which Stitt has said he has no plans to issue.

Stitt's office did not return a Wednesday morning request for a response to the president's comments. On Wednesday afternoon, the governor's communications director tweeted about a Quinnipiac poll finding a decline in pandemic-related job approval for Biden since May.

"12 point drop. ouch!" the spokesperson wrote.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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