Oklahoma lawmaker files bill that includes mask mandate

Oklahomans would be required to wear masks in public and face up to $1,000 fines for failing to do so under a bill filed by Democratic state Rep. Jason Lowe. Dubbed the “COVID-19 Save Lives Response Act,” the measure would also prohibit nonessential gatherings of more than 10 people and encourage all businesses to reduce in-person attendance.

Places of worship and essential businesses would be exempt under the proposal. Lowe, who announced Monday that he’d filed the bill, was among the first Oklahoma lawmakers to test positive for the virus back in March.

The measure is unlikely to pass in the Republican-controlled Legislature, where many members refuse to wear masks, even in crowded committee rooms and on the House floor. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt also has resisted imposing a statewide mask mandate, despite recommendations from doctors and other health professionals that he do so.

Under the bill, the measures would be in place until no more than 300 people have been hospitalized with the virus for 30 days. Oklahoma health officials reported Monday that 1,595 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. They also reported 1,763 more cases and 14 additional deaths, bringing the number of cases to 374,853 and the death toll to 3,293.

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