Area law enforcement see few issues with mask mandate

Keri Thornton | Daily Press

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy Lane Yeager said he has yet to deal with a subject not social distancing while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Despite a recent survey, some area law enforcement officials say they aren’t dealing with issues involving intoxicated people not practicing social distancing.

According to a poll carried out by Projectknow.com, 74 percent of Oklahomans don’t believe drunk people can be trusted to maintain social distancing regulations.

“Many people are experiencing ‘pandemic burnout,’ and have been for months with so many aspects of life restricted or hindered,” said Stefanie Magalong, clinical director at Laguna Treatment Hospital and spokesperson for ProjectKnow.com. “Not adhering to guidelines, like wearing a mask and social distancing, will only further delay reopening our communities and extend the restrictions that are currently in place.”

Cherokee County Sheriff Jason Chennault said people are following Tahlequah’s mask mandate, and his office hasn’t seen or dealt with anyone refusing to do so.

“We haven’t observed any large gatherings and, of course, there’s no mask mandate in the county, and it’s not a criminal act to gather in the county,” Chennault said. “When we were going around the first day of school for our county schools, I didn’t see any students or staff of the schools that weren’t wearing masks.”

Tahlequah Police Lt. Brandon Vick said he’s arrested several people for public intoxication, but they have been isolated incidents and not around others.

“I haven’t seen anything that I would think it being a problem within other reports I have reviewed either,” Vick said.

However, Officer Justin Leatherwood worked some late-night shifts, and he said they’ve responded to several parties where people weren’t following protocols.

“We were dealing with NSU [Northeastern State University] students on the first week of school and there would be 200-250 people at each party, and no one had masks on,” Leatherwood said. “We have been to several parties where they aren’t social distancing or taking precautions.”

While stores such as Walmart and Reasor’s implemented restrictions on social distancing inside stores, 75 percent of the 3,000 people who partook in the survey believe bars should limit the number of patrons to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Half of the respondents believe alcohol consumption in bars should be limited during the pandemic.

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