Durant holding off on mask mandate despite having over half of COVID-19 related deaths in Bryan Co.

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 9:09 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 11:02 PM CST
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DURANT, Oklahoma (KXII) -

As of Tuesday night, Bryan County had 459 active cases of COVID-19 and 18 reported COVID-19 related deaths.

That accounts for the 11th highest total in the state and the highest active case count in Texoma.

The city of Durant reported 270 active cases and accounts for 10 of the 18 COVID-19 related deaths in Bryan County. However, the city is not requiring citizens to wear masks, only city staff.

Case numbers have dropped over the past two days and Durant City Manager John Dean said with the current trend of infections the city council would not support a mask mandate.

“We don’t believe that there’s anything that we can effectively do,” Dean said. “As long as we trend the way we are I don’t think the council would support a mandate.”

Dean said the COVID-19 numbers the state reports for Durant covers approximately 152 square miles and accounts for the entire 74701 area code. Even though Durant only stretches 27.4 miles that area makes up over 60 percent of the population of Bryan County.

Dean said requiring city staff to wear masks should set a standard “that is a benefit to the populous.”

“They see what we’re doing, they would be following suit you would think. But again we live in a free society where you do get to kind of choose,” Dean said.

Dean said they will continue to echo the advice and guidelines laid out by the state and country’s top health professionals.

Joshua Eguia said there are times he doesn’t feel safe being in Durant.

“Sometimes yeah. Sometimes no,” Eguia said. “There’s a lot of people that just don’t wear their masks and I feel like it’s the people that are mostly just going to Texas and coming back that are bringing the virus back with them.”

Larry Brown, a Durant man, said that wearing a mask just isn’t feasible for him.

““I have respiratory problems with cigarette smoking, I shouldn’t be doing that,” Brown said. “I have painter’s lung from working on cars all my life. I wear a mask, I can’t hardly breathe through it.”

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