COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE

Mayor G.T. Bynum speaks during a news conference to provide an update on the local COVID-19 response Wednesday, June 24, 2020. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Wear a mask.

The city has asked nicely, but now it may be getting ready to insist — and not without reason.

Earlier this week, Mayor G.T. Bynum said a mask mandate and a 250-person limit on indoor events are on the table because of the local surge of COVID-19 cases. That’s not Bynum’s preferred alternative, because it will probably produce resistance, but it still may come to that.

The city has repeatedly broken its records for new diagnoses of the potentially deadly disease for which there is no treatment or vaccine. COVID-19 hospitalizations also are at an all-time high, although there isn’t any concern that the local health care system will be overwhelmed.

We all knew something like this was coming. When the state emerged from the COVID-19 shutdown, it was clear that people would be at higher risk of exposure, infection and sickness. But the numbers are higher than models projected and very troubling.

Yes, President Donald Trump’s mass rally, associated protests and completely unrelated but large events going on around town last weekend will have an impact on COVID-19 numbers, too. But we probably haven’t seen those numbers yet. Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart says seven kinds of events are consistently showing up — weddings, funerals, faith-based activities, bars, gyms, house gatherings and other small events.

It has been pointed out that when Trump came to town, the elected city, state and federal leadership greeted him at the airport without masks. Everyone had been tested shortly before the meeting, so there was no doubt that it was a sterile environment, but as a symbolic act of modeling-needed behavior, we wish we had seen some masks.

That certainly would make a mask mandate a few days later go down easier.

But we can’t relive last Saturday. We can make sure that we do the right thing to protect ourselves and others. Wear a mask. Maintain a safe distance. Insist that others do those things. Don’t go into public, if you are ill.

Do the right thing, for yourself and your fellow citizens.


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