The Owasso City Council on Tuesday night passed a resolution strongly encouraging citizens to wear masks and businesses to require them in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The resolution also gives businesses legal cover to require masks by pledging the Owasso Police Department’s support through enforcing trespassing laws.
City Manager Warren Lehr made clear before the council’s vote, however, there is no legal requirement for anyone to wear or require masks.
"It is not a law that makes it illegal to walk down the street without a mask. It’s not an ordinance. It’s a resolution," Lehr said.
That didn’t stop citizens from coming to the meeting to speak against the action. Ashley McGuire pointed out to the council Tulsa, which has had a mask mandate since July, has seven times as many active cases as Owasso.
"So, if the mask mandate is to help flatten the curve, I think that the numbers just kind of speak for themselves that obviously, that is not working," McGuire said.
Owasso’s population-based rate of current active cases is 57% higher than Tulsa’s.
Ron Crosby said it was his first time at a council meeting.
"You can’t tell an American what they can and cannot do, especially a government agency. I think by your actions and the resolution recommending that you all know that," Crosby said.
Crosby said he and his family take steps like wearing masks when they should. Vice Mayor Kelly Lewis asked for more people to do that in an effort to get through the coronavirus pandemic.
"Gosh, can we just have compassion for each other and maybe shorten the length of this. We’re all so weary and tired of it," Lewis said.
Owasso has seen cases spike, and the city’s high school sent students home for the rest of the year this week.