Oklahoma governor orders day of prayer for Covid but no mask mandate

Gino Spocchia
 (AP)
(AP)

As the spread of Covid-19 continues to accelerate across the United States, residents in Oklahoma have been asked to take part in a prayer day by the state’s Republican governor, Kevin Stitt.

In an announcement, Mr Stitt said Oklahomans should pray to God amid the pandemic, which has seen some 200,000 people in the state contract the coronavirus, and almost 2,000 lose their lives.

The day of prayer has been planned for Thursday, with churches and other places of worship due to host those who take part.

There has, meanwhile, been no statewide mandate on masks, despite new Covid-19 cases increasing by 18 per cent over the past two weeks, according to the Associated Press, and demands from Democrats and medial officials.

On Monday alone, the state recorded another 2,200 coronavirus cases and seven deaths, as Mr Stitt announced the prayer day.

“Oklahomans have always turned to prayer to guide us through trials and seasons of uncertainty,” he said in a statement. ”I am asking Oklahomans of all faiths and religious backgrounds to join together with me on Thursday.”

The Republican, who admitted the year had been “mentally, emotionally and physically draining", went on to say that prayer could help those who have struggled with the pandemic, and that precautions should be followed.

"I believe our churches and faith communities have an incredible opportunity during this season to provide hope to Oklahomans who are struggling,” he added.

Mr Stitt has refused to order a statewide mandate on masks, and instead called on Oklahomans to exercise “personal responsibility”, even as cases continued to spike.

"As far as a mandate, I've been very clear that I don't think that's the right thing to do,” he said last month. “This is a personal responsibility. This is pleading with people to do the right thing."

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), masks have been proven to stop the spread of Covid-19, and can protect both mask wearers and others.

The agency also said "adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns", while some 37 states are now reported to have mandates on masks, according to AARP.

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