TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt faced criticism Thursday amid the “day of prayer and fasting” he implemented in response to the state’s ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Stitt called for Oklahomans “of all faiths & religious backgrounds” to pray and fast for the state as it averages more than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 per and more than 1,700 people remain hospitalized in connection with the virus.
The president of Oklahoma Baptist University called it “a wise call to action” in an opinion column in The Oklahoman.
Other church leaders in the state felt otherwise.
“Governor Stitt, prayer should be accompanied by a willingness to act, and fasting should happen with an intention to change,” the Oklahoma Conference of Churches said in a statement, calling for Stitt to implement a statewide mask mandate.
“I’m praying that he will listen to the scientists, doctors and experts so we can save many lives,” said Tulsa Rev. Marvin Lavanhar with a video posted to Facebook.
Stitt and the Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye have repeatedly spoken out against the effectiveness of a mask mandate for the state. Frye previously said the mandate would likely result in even fewer people wearing masks.
In several news conferences throughout November, the state has said it is leaving it up to individuals to be responsible for the health and safety of their communities when it comes to mask-wearing.
Late Thursday as the day of prayer came to a close, a viewer sent FOX23 a Facebook post from Marcel Martinez who claimed to have been traveling from Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City when he saw Stitt wearing his own mask improperly.
Martinez posted the photos to social media showing the governor in the terminal and inside the commercial plane with his mask hanging below his nose.
A University of North Carolina study from August 2020 detailed how COVID-19 travels through cells of nasal cavity and respiratory tract, thus making mask-wearing that covers the nose essential to preventing the spread of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also includes in its mask-wearing guidelines to keep face coverings over the nose and mouth.
FOX23 reached out to Stitt’s office Thursday night for comment on the photos shown above but we have yet to hear back.
Cox Media Group