City could revoke mask mandate Tuesday

·2 min read

May 17—The Norman City Council could rescind all of its COVID-19 pandemic ordinances, including the city's mask mandate, during its meeting Tuesday night, an agenda shows.

Mayor Breea Clark told The Transcript Monday there will be presentations of the current state of the pandemic from the University of Oklahoma's COVID Dr. Dale Bratzler, Norman Regional Health System's Dr. Kate Cook and Cleveland County Regional Health Director Jackie Kanak.

All three have appeared before council numerous times throughout the course of the pandemic to share insights about the virus, how it spreads, mitigation efforts and infection trends, The Transcript has reported.

On the agenda is a strike through every ordinance adopted by the council related to the pandemic, including social distancing, masks and restrictions on gatherings and capacity for places of public accommodation.

Gov. Kevin Stitt rescinded his declaration of a state of emergency for the pandemic on May 3, as the seven-day average of infections fell 94% below its peak. According to The Frontier, half of Oklahoma adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 40% are fully vaccinated.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines that no longer recommend fully vaccinated people wear masks in many situations. Oklahoma City and Tulsa mask mandates expired at the end of April 30.

At the start of the pandemic, Clark was the first to declare a state of emergency for the City of Norman, close and then reopen businesses with restrictions, limit gatherings in public and, with council support, issue the first mask mandate. Clark also organized a pandemic task force that initially met three times a week to pore over infection trends, but now meets every other week, she told The Transcript.

During a council meeting on April 26, Clark said she would not consider lifting the mask mandate until after University of Oklahoma graduation ceremonies had ended. OU hosted in-person ceremonies for most of its colleges over the weekend.

"We're home to a university that's about to have a four-day graduation celebration with thousands of people coming from around the nation, which I look forward to their sales tax dollars but not COVID-19 that they may be carrying," she said at the time.

Clark also said during that April 26 meeting that she would "be surprised" if council chose to end pandemic restrictions early.

The council will also discuss the status of enterprise funds in its ongoing preview of the city's proposed fiscal year ending 2022 budget.

Mindy Wood covers City Hall news and notable court cases for The Transcript. Reach her at mwood@normantranscript.com or 405-416-4420.