Tulsa to drop mask mandate, cites declining hospital numbers
April 16, 2021
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulsa officials announced plans Thursday to drop the city's mask mandate at the end of the month, citing a rapid decline in the number of people being hospitalized for COVID-19.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said more than 450 people were hospitalized in Tulsa in January with COVID-19, but that number has plummeted to 40 people earlier this week as more people, particularly vulnerable populations, have been vaccinated.
"The absence of a mask order does not mean people should start burning their masks," Bynum said. "We should still exercise caution."
Bynum said individual businesses may still require customers wear masks inside their stores and added that his executive order requiring restaurant and bar workers to wear masks will continue past April 30.
Meanwhile, state health officials reported 302 confirmed new coronavirus cases on Thursday and 21 new deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed infections in Oklahoma to 444,590 and the state's death count to 8,114.
Oklahoma currently ranks 21st nationally with 23% of its population fully vaccinated, compared to a national average of 21%, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.