Tulsa City Council should amend the local mask mandate to apply to anyone over age 10.
It also should extend the COVID-19 protections well into next year.
The mask mandate passed by the council in July only applies to adults and is set to expire no later than Nov. 30.
Those half-steps may have been necessary to make a modestly uncomfortable requirement more palatable to Oklahomans.
But since it was passed, a couple of things have happened.
The number of Tulsans wearing masks in public places has clearly risen, helped by retailers posting signs that face covering are required.
Also, the city has not thrown huge crowds of Tulsans into jail because they forgot their mask before leaving for church. The city’s enforcement of the requirement has been light on coercion and heavy on friendly reminders.
Now, does anyone think the pandemic will have run its course in Tulsa by the end of November?
More than 72,000 Oklahomans have contracted the disease since March, and 924 have died. Tulsa County had recorded 15,469 COVID-19 cases and 149 deaths. More than 11% of the county’s cases have involved patients under age 18.
The latest public report from President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 task force puts 24 Oklahoma counties and seven metro areas in the red zone for high levels of virus spread. That includes all of Tulsa and Tulsa County.
There’s hope for a vaccine sometime soon, but scientists are also suggesting that colder weather may produce a second wave of cases this winter. Tulsa’s COVID-19 troubles are not anywhere close to ended.
Meanwhile, Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart says good science shows children from age 10 can expel the same amount of viral load as adults. Younger children can still be contagious, but their viral loads are generally much smaller.
Children can be trained to wear masks anytime they go into public. In fact, our observation is that many children are more attentive to the need for masks in public than their parents and grandparents.
The council should protect the public by extending the mask requirement in time and making it apply to anyone from age 10.
The surrounding suburbs should do the same, and Gov. Kevin Stitt should order similar requirements for any part of the state at high risk of viral transmission.
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