Saying the science is clear that children 10 and older can spread and be sickened by the novel coronavirus, the director of the Tulsa Health Department recommended the Tulsa City Council amend the city's COVID-19 mask ordinance to apply to those 10 and above rather than just those 18 and above.
"I understand both sides of the argument around parental choice. I truly do, as a parent myself," Dr. Bruce Dart, the agency's director, told the council at a meeting of its urban and economic development committee held virtually on Wednesday. "But at this juncture we know that that's one of the few things we can actually do to mitigate transmission in our communities, and I just think it'd be a wise choice."
Dart said there had already been a "pretty large" amount of infections and exposures at K-12 schools and colleges and universities since campuses began reopening. He said educational institutions are now higher-risk settings than long-term care facilities in terms of contracting the virus, according to data.
"As we think about the onset of flu season coming on and trying to be proactive, the more we can do to keep people safe, I think it's the right step to go," Dart said of the age change.
Councilor Crista Patrick told Dart she had been contacted by constituents who have sought clarity as misinformation has circulated.
"What I heard you say is children 10 or above have the same viral load as an adult?" Patrick asked.
"That's correct, they do," Dart said.
"They are just as susceptible of transmission whether it be asymptomatic or not?" Patrick said.
"Correct," Dart said.
The council did not take action on such a change, which would require to be passed by a vote then signed by the mayor.