The Sand Springs City Council agreed on a resolution Monday, July 27 that would allow businesses to decide their own COVID-19 mask and social distancing policies, essentially meaning there won’t be a mandatory mask-wearing ordinance at this time for Sand Springs.
Three Sand Springs residents spoke at the meeting, giving the council both sides of the mask-wearing argument, and personal health, the health of others, personal responsibility, and loss of liberties were all mentioned.
Several of the city councilors then gave their opinions on whether masks should be mandatory, and the consensus was that the numbers did not support a mandate. However, councilman Brian Jackson wanted to make sure there was no stone left unturned before making a decision.
“(COVID-19) is severe,” Jackson said. “People are dying. I don’t want to have blood on my hands.”
Sand Springs Superintendent of Schools Sherry Durkee spoke to the council along with Fire Chief Mike Wood, and Police Chief Mike Carter.
Durkee said, “We are entering uncharted territory.”
She said the school is not asking for any type of city mandate and said there were 5,034 students coming back to school in August. Durkee also expressed her concern for the older teaching staff with underlying health conditions that would be more susceptible to COVID-19.
Councilman Phil Nollan discussed the COVID-19 numbers and said the council did its due diligence in speaking with city leaders, businesses, and ministers.
“Our country has become alarmist by nature,” Nollan said. “Sand Springs has roughly 20,000 people and there have been 144 cases. That’s .007 percent. There have been two deaths, and those were back in early March, I believe. That’s .0001 percent.”
Chief Carter also discussed numbers, but said that the important number is the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19. Those numbers are the numbers and you can’t manipulate them, Carter said.
“The numbers aren’t showing a need to mandate everyone wearing a mask,” said Vice Mayor Patty Dixon.
City councilman Beau Wilson said that he wanted to make sure there wasn’t an over-reach by the city council and expressed that forcing masks could be an intrusion of a person’s civil liberties. He also said the country has given in to one pandemic which has led to other pandemics like mental and financial instability.
The city council then voted unanimously on a resolution to allow businesses to mandate their own COVID-19 policies in regards to masks and social distancing.