In what became a leading national story, violent threats from some Stillwater consumers forced the withdrawal of a city mandate to wear protective masks in certain businesses.
It’s a national embarrassment that does not represent Oklahoma well or, we hope, accurately.
Cloth facial coverings are recommended by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials.
Taking this common sense step cuts down on the spread of the COVID-19 virus, particularly from asymptomatic people. It works best when combined with recommended physical distancing.
Stillwater followed other Oklahoma cities last week in opening more businesses with certain restrictions, including that customers and workers in restaurants and retail businesses wear facial masks.
Within three hours of businesses opening, Mayor Will Joyce weakened the emergency order to only “encourage” residents to wear protective coverings.
City Manager Norman McNickle said employees reported being verbally abused and physically threatened. At least one threat involved a firearm.
All this over the use of a protective mask that has been embraced in other states and internationally as a public safety measure and a matter of common courtesy.
We have stated this before, but it’s worth repeating: Wearing a mask and keeping a physical distance is part of a new etiquette.
National media and international wire services picked up the story, which became a top pick on their websites over the weekend.
This is not the Oklahoma Standard, and we don’t think it reflects the majority of Stillwater residents.
These threats show how the misguided anger of a few can unjustly dominate the narrative.
Stillwater officials did what they believed necessary to protect workers, not from the virus but from customers. So, the bullies won.
But we hope cooler heads prevail and the recommended safety measures can be used without harassment.