Rogers County Commissioners unanimously voted to remove the mask mandate on county properties effective immediately.
“We know this thing hasn't gone away,” District Two Commissioner Steve Hendrix said. “We still have to take precautions. We agree that we should continue with the temperature scanners, but I think the time has come to make the mask optional and not mandatory.”
Masks will still be recommended in public areas while temperature checks and social distancing will continue.
“As far as the judges, we’ve spent a lot of money in the judges chambers to safeguard judge and staff and the public thats there,” District Three Commissioner Ron Burrow said. “The judges, just like every other office in the courthouse, would still have their autonomy to do what they wanted in their offices.”
Individual offices still have the power to determine whether or not masks have to be worn within their offices.
Hendrix said he took the liberty of polling each elected office and asking their opinion regarding the mask mandate before Monday’s regular meeting.
“They were all in agreement they have no reservations about lifting our county mask mandate,” he said.
Hendrix said he wanted to revisit the mask mandate because the time felt appropriate.
“Obviously, we’re all aware and have been watching the trends of the state, country and county,” he said. “The Governor has lifted the restrictions on social gathering, the vaccines are going well – everyone that wants to be vaccinated should have had the opportunity. We know that the numbers are trending down.”
Hendrix said some of the aspects put in place to protect the staff and judges – like plexiglass and temperature monitors – are great for not only COVID, but influenza as well.
“It’s never going to be 100 percent agreement,” he said. “There wasn’t 100 percent agreement when we put on the mask mandate, and there probably won’t be 100 percent agreement when we take it off and we understand that,” Hendrix said. “I feel the timing is appropriate.”
Rogers County Emergency Management Director Scotty Stokes said with the downward trends, he is in agreement.
“It doesn’t stop anyone from wearing it if they feel uncomfortable and want to wear one,” he said. “It doesn’t stop any offices.”
Stokes highly urge offices to continue to monitor employees and staff for illnesses.
“It’s still out there,” he said. “It’s not gone away. It’s trending downwards. We all need to be diligent and cautious.”
Stokes said this is the next step in the right direction.