Oklahoma Democrats, health officials call for special session to repeal ‘no mask mandates’

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As the delta variant continues to spread, the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus is calling for a special session to repeal a new law that prohibits school districts from requiring masks unless the governor declares a state of emergency.

“It saddens us as physicians to see children dying, at this point, for something that is preventable,” Dr. Mary Clarke, President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, told KFOR on Monday. “We’re starting to see these very young people be in the ICU and ICUs at children’s hospitals are being diverted periodically because there are so many cases in the hospital.”

Over the weekend, the number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma soared, with almost 5,600 new cases since Friday as the delta variant continues to spread.

“As we’re moving in to the school year and students will be back to school, we fully expect that those cases will continue to rise,” Dr. Clarke said.

“We know that a lot of the student population is still unable to get vaccinated,” Rep. Emily Virgin, (D) Norman, told News 4 Monday.

Those are reasons why Virgin and other members of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus are now calling for a special session to repeal Senate Bill 658, which the legislature passed last session.

It prevents local school districts from requiring masks, unless the governor declares a state of emergency.

“He’s made it very clear that he’s not planning on doing that and so, we feel that if he’s not going to take responsibility then the legislature needs to,” Virgin said.

Until that happens, doctors say the best thing Oklahomans can do for their kids who are eligible to get them vaccinated. 

“That is how we’re going to control the spread over time,” Dr. Clarke said.

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