The last time city councilors entertained the idea of implementing a mask mandate, the City Council chamber of City Hall was filled with passionate supporters of the proposal and those equally intense in their opposition to it.
As it turned out, councilors tabled the proposed mandate until Wednesday and instead passed a nonbinding resolution encouraging Tulsans to follow federal recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, masks and other preventive measures designed to slow the spread of the deadly virus.
That was in late August. More than three months later, the recommendations included in the nonbinding resolution remain in effect, but the proposed mask mandate is no more after councilors took no action on the item Wednesday.
It wasn’t even discussed.
Councilor Phil Lakin, however, did provide his colleagues with an update on the COVID working group’s latest meeting from earlier this week. The group includes four city councilors, Mayor G.T. Bynum, city staff and Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart.
“Data shows that case counts of 617 are at the lowest point since July, which is good news. The active case rate map published by THD shows seven more zip codes in the green, or very low virus, category, with none in the red, or very high, category,” Lakin said after the council meeting. “Trends in other measures, like positivity rates, wastewater and hospitalizations, have remained relatively flat and low over the last few weeks.
“THD discussed the new omicron variant, stating that its effects were still being analyzed by global experts, and more information might be forthcoming soon.”
The council’s decision not to impose a mask mandate does not affect Tulsa’s mask policies for city employees and visitors to City Hall.
The city’s original mask mandate, approved in July 2020, covered people 18 years of age and older. It was later lowered to those 10 years of age and older.