OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As health officials continue to stress the importance of COVID-19 precautions, an Oklahoma representative has filed a bill that would enact a statewide mask mandate.
Rep. Jason Lowe filed House Bill 2192, also known as the ‘COVID-19 Save Lives Response Act.’
“It is time that our state takes action against COVID-19 to save lives and to successfully and
safely reopen schools and our economy,” said Lowe. “Though it is great that the Pfizer and
Moderna vaccines are now being distributed throughout the state, it is still necessary that we
practice social distancing and wear masks to protect our communities until enough people
receive the vaccine.”
The bill would trigger a statewide mask mandate until the Oklahoma State Department of Health confirms that COVID-19 related hospitalizations have remained at or below 300 for 30 consecutive days.
“For nearly a year, our dedicated health care professionals have told us that wearing masks is effective,” Lowe said. “It is time to fully follow their recommendations so we can move forward.”
The bill would also prohibit nonessential gatherings of 10 or more people with exceptions to churches and essential businesses.
The measure would also encourage businesses to reduce in-person attendance whenever possible.
Since the pandemic began, Gov. Kevin Stitt said he has encouraged Oklahomans to wear a mask in public. However, he says he will not issue a mask mandate.
“A mask mandate is long overdue,” said Lowe. “We have actual data that shows mandates help decrease the spread. If the executive branch won’t act on its own, it is imperative that we as Legislators put into place precautions that save lives.”
Lowe’s bill might face stiff resistance at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Earlier this month, Rep. Emily Virgin proposed a mask requirement for lawmakers on the House floor. However, the measure was quickly shut down, even though Gov. Stitt had issued an executive order that directed all state employees to wear face masks while in state buildings.
“Governor Stitt has enacted an executive order requiring all state employees and visitors in state buildings to wear masks. Why do some of my colleagues feel they are exempt from the Governor’s order?” Virgin tweeted.