Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is a serious issue in Enid.

Since at least the start of the month, Enid’s two hospital leaders have been telling city officials and leaders to expect a coronavirus spike in new cases after Thanksgiving, possibly before.

Hospitals already are facing limited capacity and health care workers are emotionally and physically exhausted.

As hospitals function in surge capacity mode to meet patient demand for the duration of the pandemic, staff are constantly worrying about testing positive, as well as transmitting the virus to friends or loved ones at home, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center CEO Krista Roberts said.

“If we don’t do anything to slow the spread down, our health care system will be overwhelmed,” Integris Bass Baptist Health Center President Finny Mathew said. “We continue to support masking, hand hygiene and social distancing.”

The city of Enid does not have a mandate system in place.

Fact: Cities that wear masks have slowed the spread. Oklahoma’s epidemiologist has said an intensive study of the state’s mask-mandated communities found face covering usage significantly slows the spread of COVID-19.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said data shows that COVID-19 transmission in communities without mask requirements is considerably worse than in Oklahoma City, which has one. Holt, a Republican, said COVID-19 is so widespread right now, that if someone enters a room with 25 people, odds are someone is going to be sick with COVID.

“I don’t even know your friends, but right now, I’m going to tell you based on the (Oklahoma City’s) numbers, your friends have the ‘rona,” Holt said.

A recent study also suggests Enid is more prone to a case spike, as a smaller municipality with more vulnerable health systems and vulnerable populations.

Our transmission rate already is its highest on record. On Friday, Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Garfield County at its highest-ever rate of spread, at 72.5 new daily cases per 100,000, with 67.6 reported the week before.

“Having a mask policy helps people make it normal, helps businesses not have to carry the burden (and) helps people who want to protect each other be part of the norm,” said Maggie Jackson, community engagement director for Garfield County Health Department. “Masks are only as effective as the community wearing them all together.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed its stance on masks throughout the pandemic due to developing understanding of the novel coronavirus. After previously stating that masks should be worn to protect others, the CDC said on Nov. 10 that it has now concluded that masks also protect the individual wearing it as well.

This pandemic is putting a strain on our hospital network for all diseases and affecting everyone both emotionally and mentally.

Think about your local health care providers, nurses and doctors and wear a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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The News & Eagle Editorial Board meets weekly to form the newspaper's stances on mostly local and state and occasionally national issues.

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