Statue Mask

A statue in downtown Stillwater had a mask placed on it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce has rescinded the City’s emergency declaration, ending Stillwater’s mask ordinance ahead of its May 25 expiration date.

Effective at 3 p.m. Friday, face coverings will not be required in public, although people are still asked to exercise care, especially if they have not been vaccinated.

“The CDC continues to recommend face masks for all non-vaccinated people in most cases,” Joyce said. “In addition, local businesses, schools and other entities may also continue to require face masks. We ask Stillwater residents to follow the CDC guidelines and respect the requirements of local businesses and others.”

Joyce made his decision based on updated CDC guidance and improved local conditions, in consultation with local health officials.

When asked what he would want the public to know about the situation, City Manager Norman McNickle said, “Get vaccinated.”

As of May 11, 41.2% of Payne County residents age 16 and over, and 77.6% of residents age 65 and over, had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health county-level vaccination report.

OSDH reported 31.9% of Payne County residents age 16 and over and 64% of residents age 65 and over had been fully vaccinated as of May 11.

As of May 12, Payne County had 17 active COVID-19 cases, a significant decrease from the 132 active cases the week of April 21, according to the City of Stillwater release. As of May 10, Payne County had 0.7 cases per 100,000 people which places the county in the Green COVID-19 Risk Level, the lowest level.

The City of Stillwater announcement noted that the FDA and CDC have authorized the Pfizer vaccine for use in people as young as 12 years old and encouraged people to access vaccinefinder.org, a free online service created by the CDC to help people find vaccinations available at clinics, pharmacies and health departments.

Joyce indicated on Thursday that changes would be coming to Stillwater’s policies after the revised CDC guidance was released.

“Like many of you, I was pleasantly surprised to see new CDC guidance released this afternoon regarding masks and social distancing,” he said in a Facebook post. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have relied on the expert advice of public health professionals, and we will continue to do so. City staff and I are reviewing the new recommendations and talking with local health officials and our community partners … In any event, the most important thing we can all do at this point is to be vaccinated. Everyone ages 12 and up can receive the vaccine for free at a variety of local providers. Please protect yourself and our community by getting your shot.”

Although the City of Stillwater has rescinded its emergency proclamation and ended its mask ordinance, specific businesses, schools and other entities can still require people to wear face masks on their premises.

The Stillwater Police Department will continue to respond to trespassing complaints for businesses that choose to require masks. McNickle said SPD has not been called to do that many times over the past year.

"You could count it on one hand," he said.

Limitations put in place at city facilities like the Stillwater Public Library, Stillwater Community Center and Stillwater Senior Center would be reversed over the next few days, McNickle said Friday. City partners like the Stillwater Area Sports Association have also been informed of the change so they can adjust operations accordingly.

CDC guidelines continue to recommend masks and social distancing for vaccinated individuals in a variety of situations, including air, bus and other public transportation; visiting doctors’ offices, hospitals or long-term care facilities; and visiting prisons and jails. Learn more at https://bit.ly/3fgOFZ7.

Oklahoma State University also announced Friday that it would no longer mandate the use of masks or social distancing on campus or at any OSU sponsored activity with two exceptions. Masks will still be required on OSU transit buses due to Department of Transportation requirements and in certain areas of University Health Services.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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