OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma had the fifth-highest rate of newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. last week and the White House Coronavirus Task Force is again recommending a statewide mask mandate, according to a report released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
The state had 142 new virus cases per 100,000 residents, compared to a national average of 72 per 100,000, according to the task force report, which is dated Sunday.
The number of new cases declined slightly from the task force’s report last week, when Oklahoma was seeing 146 per 100,000 people and had the ninth-highest rate of new cases. After recommending a statewide mask requirement, the task force last week recommended that they only be required in urban areas and in counties where students and teachers had tested positive for the virus.
“Establish statewide mask mandate. COVID-19 is being brought into nursing homes through community transmission. Review and improve infection control practices at nursing homes to stop the introduction of COVID-19. Arkansas is a great example in the Heartland where statewide transmission has decreased through mask usage,” the report said.
Gov. Kevin Stitt has said repeatedly that he would not issue a statewide mandate and would instead rely on residents to adopt safe health practices that include wearing masks, socially distancing and frequently washing their hands.
The state health department on Wednesday reported 970 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths from the disease, raising