City Council removes expiration date for public mask order, sets 5% positivity rate goal
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Midwest City’s public mask order will remain in place.
The city council last week unanimously approved extending the emergency order until the testing positivity rate is 5% or less in Oklahoma County for two consecutive weeks. The city council chose not to set an expiration date for the ordinance as it has in the past.
Midwest City issued its first public mask order on July 27. This is the second time the mask order has been renewed.
Phil Maytubby, chief operating officer for Oklahoma City-County Health Department, recommended that the city continue the mask order due to continued spread of COVID-19 in the county.
Councilman Pat Byrne read an email from Maytubby, who was not able to attend the meeting, which outlined his reasoning for the request.
“The difference in the transmission rates due to masking is helping to keep our medical system from becoming completely overrun,” Byrne read. “We have seen record high levels of cases, hospitalizations and now deaths.”
Maytubby recommended extending the order until the testing positivity rate was 5% or less for two consecutive weeks. He said the positivity rate is currently “above 8% and climbing.”
Councilman Sean Reed and Byrne expressed interest in removing an expiration date for the mask order and instead rely on the testing benchmark of 5% positivity rate. Reed said it would save city staff and council members’ time from reauthorizing the order every 30-45 days, while still providing an expiration for the order.
Two residents spoke about extending the mask order with one for and one against the measure. Lindsey Oudit asked the council to continue the mask order due to Mid-Del Schools’ decision to return to in-person instruction. Richard Cochran objected to an open ended mask order because he believes the COVID-19 data is skewed and censored by the media and social media platforms, that masks are harmful to children’s education in schools.
Byrne said their decision is based on information from health experts and not from social media.
The council voted unanimously 4-0 to approve the extension of the mask order. Councilwomen Susan Eads and Christine Allen were absent. Reed attended the meeting virtually.