Mask Mandates

Above is the masks that citizens are wearing during the pandemic.

Above is the masks that citizens are wearing during the pandemic.

Allie Clift, Memorial Contributing Writer

     Over the course of this year, COVID-19, and more importantly, how to prevent it, has been a major topic of discussion and debate. Many people question whether masks, intended to control the spread of the virus, really work. 

     When communities first became aware of how detrimental COVID-19 was becoming, scientists recommended citizens wear masks to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of listening to the professionals, American citizens instead decided to debate among each other over if masks really work, or if it was a hoax and they were wearing them for no reason. 

     Though highly controversial, masks are one of the only temporary solutions for COVID-19, and can be a matter of life and death for those who are at high risk, such as citizens with underlying health conditions. 

     Recently, Jenks High School made national news after a controversial picture of their student section not wearing masks or social distancing circulated around. Jenks is a prime example of citizens refusing to follow mask mandates that are put in place, and overall causing these mandates to be unsuccessful.

     There are places throughout the world that mask mandates were successful though. Australia, for instance, put a mask mandate in place this summer, and now has less than 20 cases throughout the entire country. 

     So why can’t the United States do the same? Four of the deadliest days in U.S history were reported last week, just from COVID-19 deaths. Last week’s death toll beat The Civil War’s Battle of Antietam, where about 3,650 died,  the Battle of Gettysburg, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

      The United States currently has more cases than any other country in the world and still has no set national mask mandate in place. Though part of the issue is American citizens not wearing masks, the other half of this issue is government officials not enforcing these mandates.

     In Oklahoma in particular, Gov. Kevin Stitt has yet to enforce a statewide mask mandate and is actively avoiding doing so. The Oklahoma State Department of Health is reporting an average of more than 2,600 new cases per day. A week ago, that average was at 1,100 new COVID-19 cases. 

     As a reaction to these numbers, Gov. Stitt has so far declared a day of prayer for the people affected by the virus and has shut down restaurants and bars at 11 p.m., but there is still no mask mandate. Though Gov. Stitt has mentioned he opposes a statewide shutdown, that is exactly what Oklahoma is heading towards without a mask mandate. 

     Although there is yet to be a statewide mask mandate in Oklahoma, some cities have taken action and put mandates into place. Tulsa, Edmond, and Lawton for example have taken it upon themselves to put mask mandates into action. Populated cities do have many cases, but most new cases are coming from rural areas outside of cities. This is showing that citizens wearing masks are slowing the spread in cities. 

      COVID-19 cases are currently peaking, and continuing to take many lives. If we want to improve our way of life, we have to take initiative and wear masks, and government officials need to take initiative and enforce them. The only way to recover from this pandemic is to listen to each other, work together to form solutions, and follow rules that are put in place to help us. 

Contact Allie Clift at [email protected]