OKLAHOMA CITY – The city of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City-County Health Department and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber launched a campaign Monday urging the community to follow public health guidelines regarding mask-wearing during the coronavirus pandemic: Mask Up OKC – it’s for you, it’s for me, it’s for OKC.
By encouraging residents to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and county health guidelines, the group hopes businesses will continue to be able to safely serve the community, stay open during this critical time and help halt new transmissions while keeping our economy moving in the right direction.
“Another round of closures would be devastating to small business, impact more jobs and significantly harm the economy,” said Roy Williams, CEO and president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “This affirms our commitment to keeping our residents safe and healthy so our city can remain open. We believe our residents want our community to succeed and we are so appreciative of those who volunteered to help us in this effort. This is another time where we need to pull together for the good of OKC.”
The campaign includes commercials, billboards, digital media and social media platforms. The citywide effort features OKC celebrities, business owners, local officials, neighborhood leaders and other residents wearing masks and delivering a message to encourage their neighbors, family and friends to follow health protocols for face coverings and social distancing.
“The people of Oklahoma City have really stepped up this last month and the wearing of masks has brought the COVID-19 numbers back down,” said Mayor David Holt. “This new campaign keeps that momentum going.”
In more than a month since Oklahoma City introduced a mask mandate, Oklahoma County has seen its seven-day averages for daily infections fall from 213 infections in mid-July to 136 daily infections by mid-August.
“The most effective step society can take to stem the tide of the virus is to wear a face mask any time and every time we are in public – especially when indoors,” said Dr. Patrick McGough, executive director of OCCHD. “They provide a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face-covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice.”
The campaign began airing Monday on local media.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Monday reported 53,522 confirmed coronavirus cases, up 357 from Sunday, and 730 deaths, up four from Sunday, due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
The OSDH reported 4,411 new cases for the last seven days, up 63 from 4,748 for the previous seven days.
The Health Department reported 8,132 active cases of the virus on Monday, up 617 from 7,515 the previous Monday. The OSDH said 44,660 people have recovered.
The House Democratic Education Policy Group sent a letter to the Oklahoma State Board of Education on Monday urging the board to use their upcoming meeting to change the COVID-19 recommendations to requirements.
The board released the Oklahoma School Safety Protocols, which made recommendations based on the White House COVID-19 Task Force color-coded alert system on July 23. By making the protocols only recommendations, the board left implementation decisions to the school districts. A recent Oklahoma Media Center report surveyed 136 districts in counties at Orange Level 2 or higher – only six started the year with distance learning.
“Schools across the state have begun to reopen with mixed results and mixed responses,” said state Rep. Melissa Provenzano, the primary author of the letter. “Each day we read of newly confirmed cases tied to school buildings across our state. Schools are doing their level best to manage this crisis and continue to educate our children. We applaud them. Now they need our support, and they need us to shoulder this responsibility with them.”
As many schools go back for the fall semester, the community spread of the virus has complicated plans for many schools and colleges. The state’s weekly alert map of counties with active cases added three more counties to its orange, or “moderate,” level on Friday. That means 30 counties are now in that risk category.