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Bynum Says Insufficient 'Sense Of Urgency' From Health Leaders For Him To Support New Mask Ordinance

Chris Polansky
File photo of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Monday that he still does not see a present need for a mandatory mask ordinance in the city.

"I'm going to have to have a lot greater sense of urgency from our health care systems than we have right now," Bynum said during a virtual press briefing. "And hopefully we don't get there."

The mayor noted that he supported and signed the previous mask order in July of 2020 due to local hospital leaders telling him it was essential to prevent the collapse of the health care system.

"Fortunately, we are not in that position right now, and so there are different -- you know, every elected official has to make their own determination on when or why they would support a mask order," Bynum said.

Bynum said he was proud of the Tulsa City Council for their unanimous approval of a non-binding resolution simply encouraging Tulsans to follow federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID recommendations, and that he believed the resolution would have an impact. He also claimed that he was not sure if the Tulsa Police Department was staffed enough to implement a new mandate, citing a smaller force than when he signed last year's order.

Dr. Tim Young, chief clinical officer for Tulsa's Ascension St. John Medical Center, said during the same briefing that the hospital was not calling for a mask ordinance.

"Our concern is that people will feel that wearing a mask is protective," Young said. "And while it does provide some protection, a vaccine provides greater protection, and so we are emphasizing vaccination for that reason."

Young said Monday that the hospital was more crowded with COVID patients than at any time in the pandemic so far. 

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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