Officials said during an Aug. 2 Tahlequah City Council meeting they currently have no plans to implement another mask mandate.
Ward 1 City Councilor Bree Long said the Crisis Task Force Team met for the first time in months on Monday morning, and they were informed on the number of cases and hospital capacity.
“Northeastern Health System reported the peak was July 26 in both Oklahoma and in Cherokee County,” said Long. “The average number of new cases is 174 per county, per day. All cases to date, to be admitted, have not been vaccinated.”
Long said there’s been an increase in vaccine rates, as 98,000 new doses have been administered across the state. Forty-one percent of Oklahomans have been vaccinated to date. COVID-19 testing and vaccines are available at all NHS clinics, at no cost.
“Cherokee Nation has stated they have also seen a high number of cases as well. They have placed a tent in front of [W.W. Hastings Hospital] for testing and to increase testing availability. They also stated vaccines and testings are relatively available, and to please call and make an appointment if possible,” said Long.
Both hospital officials stated masks are required and visitation is limited.
Mayor Sue Catron added that hospitals are managing their way through with the current numbers, even as those are increasing.
“They did reiterate that those who have been admitted to the hospitals in Cherokee County, none with the vaccination have been admitted,” said Catron. “That is a positive, and so from that, they feel confident in encouraging people to get the vaccination.”
The mayor said they don't intend to enforce masks at this time, but are still urging people to wear them.
“It is possible, even if you’ve had the vaccination and you are asymptomatic, you can get this current variant [and] you could be sharing it with people without knowing,” said Catron.
Georgetta Richhart, who spoke up during a previous city council meeting, again insisted the vaccine is "designed to kill you.” She claimed 45,000 people have died from the vaccine in the past few days, and challenged officials to check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A look at several reputable, independent fact-checking sources Monday evening revealed the information Richhart passed at the meeting has no basis in fact. The CDC, which Richhart suggested as a source, also refutes her claim, as does every other health source consulted Monday evening.
In other business, the city entered into a lease agreement for four Dodge Charger police vehicles at the request of Police Chief Nate King.
King said the leasing market is tight at the moment and police vehicles are going quickly. Once the board approved his request, King said it’s going to be cheaper to purchase a plane ticket, fly to Florida to pick up the vehicles, and drive those back to Tahlequah.
Police Officer Matt Frits was promoted to sergeant in the department, and his pay will be adjusted accordingly.
An Urban Funding Agreement with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for improvements on East Fourth Street was approved.
Planning and Development Director Taylor Tannehill said the city spent a few years acquiring right-of-way for the project, and they secured the last two this last week.
“Those have been filed and the next step is sending all of that information to ODOT to get approval of the process we used to acquire everything,” said Tannehill. “We’ll have to move the utilities and the the project will be turned over to ODOT for bidding and construction.”
The next Tahlequah City Council regular meeting is Monday, Aug. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.