GROVE — In a 3-1 vote, the Grove City Council voted Tuesday to mandate mask wearing during the current COVID outbreak.
Mayor Ed Trumbull, Ivan Dewitt and Marty Dyer supported the measure with Matt Henderson opposing the ban.
Councilman Josh McElhaney was absent.
Mayor Trumbull said that Gov. Kevin’s Stitt’s Chief of Staff had called him on Tuesday, urging the city to pass a mask ban. He noted that Bond Payne said the governor believed that it should be a local decision and does not support a statewide mask ordinance.
However, Payne told the mayor the governor “urged us to pass a mask mandate.”
Several Integris doctors and nurses also appeared urging the council to pass the mandate saying, “the hospital staff is overwhelmed, and we are not halfway to the peak.”
The physicians had testified last month and made a similar appeal which resulted in the Council requiring masks on city property. However, in recent weeks the crisis has escalated.
Doctors Sam Ratermann and Kyle Shauf noted that there is less than 6% hospital ICU capacity throughout the state and most of that in rural areas in southwest Oklahoma without advanced equipment. They also indicated that cases in Delaware County and the state are expected to hit new highs in the next few weeks.
Dr. Ratermann said that both approved FDA treatments — remdesivir and convalescent plasma — are not available. One person had to be held in the hospital’s emergency room for 16 hours until the staff could finally transfer them to an appropriate facility. “When we can’t find access to a heart/lung machine, we lose the patient.”
The physicians said on Tuesday night, that in the last four days six people have died of COVID in the county.
Another major issue is lack of staff.
The staff have contracted COVID from community spread and are overwhelmed by the continuing crisis. “We can’t expand our bed capacity, because we don’t have the equipment or staff.”
Dr. Shauf, who is the Chief Medical Officer and President of the Medical Staff at Integris Grove, told the council that Grove had the highest number of cases since the crisis began on Saturday, Nov. 7.
He noted that Grove has been in the red zone on all but four days since Sept. 30.
In the last two weeks, COVID cases have spiked. “The weekend of Oct. 24 and 25 was one of the busiest weekends Integris Grove has send during the pandemic. In the first six months of the pandemic, we had 22 resident of Delaware County die. In the last 1.5 months, we’ve had 15 more die — this leaves us with less room for individuals with other health conditions like heart attacks, strokes and severe infections.”
The council agreed to hold a special meeting on Friday, Nov. 20 at 10 a.m. to pass the detailed resolution in order to give city attorney Darren Cook and city manager Bill Keefer time to draft the specifics of the ordinance.