Edmond eliminates mask mandate

Edmond+eliminates+mask+mandate

Rachel Weathers, Memorial Editor

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, cities and states across the country have implemented a mask mandate that requires individuals to wear a face-covering in public places. This has been significant in decreasing COVID-19 cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that within 20 days of a mask mandate being implemented COVID-19 cases and deaths declined weekly. The city of Edmond passed a mask mandate which went into effect Aug. 26 and lasted until Mar. 23.

With the elimination of the mandate, Edmond residents are now highly encouraged to follow guidelines from the CDC, which include wearing a mask. Some perceive the reason for Edmond’s elimination of the mask mandate as due to the politicization of masks and businesses reopening.

As the mandate expired, it is now to the discretion of business owners to decide if they will enforce a mask policy. The city asks residents to comply with the choices of the proprietor.

“If a business does elect to put up a sign to say that they require masks, just like they require no shirt, no service that they would be respectful of that,” City Council member Darell Davis said.

There has been a steady decline in positive cases in recent weeks. Oklahoma County has reached an orange zone which demonstrates there have been less recent surges in positive cases. However, some believe it’s still too early to remove the mandate as the pandemic is still prevailing and growing in other parts of the country.

“The city’s decision to not extend the mandate wasn’t smart as case numbers are most likely going to rise,” senior Abby Neumeister said.

Some are concerned that the elimination of the mandate may signal to other Edmond residents that the pandemic is nearing its end. To combat this, Advanced Placement Government teacher Greg Oppel encourages the continued use of masks and social distancing.

“I think the elimination will mistakenly inform people who don’t keep up with the news that we are past the pandemic,” Oppel said. “Since not everyone is vaccinated, we still need to employ distancing and face coverings to limit the spread, especially as we approach warm weather and pandemic fatigue.” 

While some believe a mask mandate should be in place, they also recognize many were not following the mandate when it was in effect.

“The mask mandate was a nice thing to have since I knew that people would be wearing them, but that was just false hope,” Neumeister said. “They never wore them.” 

All Oklahomans over the age of 16 are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is another precaution the CDC is recommending individuals to take to protect themselves from contracting the virus.

“I already wear a face covering and practice distancing. I will continue to do so and encourage others to follow suit,” Oppel said. “The payoff is maximum for these practices compared to long haul COVID-19 complications.”

Even in the absence of a mask mandate, individuals can still choose to wear a one and social distance for normalcy to eventually return once it’s safe. 

 

Contact Rachel Weathers at [email protected]