Oklahoma Health Commissioner: Requiring masks would only make less people wear them

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health held a meeting on Monday after hearing testimony from state and county leaders on the state’s COVID-19 response.

The meeting came after Oklahoma saw its record for daily COVID-19 cases shattered on Saturday with more than 4,000 reported.

“Overall I think it was a success story that everyone got through this better than we thought we would," said Oklahoma State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye.

Frye says the state health department was “a very dysfunctional agency that had problems for years" before he settled into his new role this summer.

Despite the state is seeing surging numbers in new cases, deaths and coronavirus-related hospitalizations, Frye and State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor say they haven’t recommended that Gov. Kevin Stitt implement a statewide mask mandate.

Taylor said masks are “political."

Frye told FOX23′s Tiffany Alaniz that he doesn’t believe a mask mandate is effective and that many people have told him they are less likely to wear a mask or won’t wear a mask if there is a mandate.

“I do not recommend a mask mandate, I recommend mask compliance," Frye says.

“I’ve had multiple people tell, come up to me and tell me, ‘hey, I’ll wear a mask, but don’t tell me I’m going to wear a mask then I’m not going to do it.’”

Stitt has not shown support for a mask mandate to this point.

After the weekend’s sharp spike in cases, the state health department clarified what the future of its reporting process will be.

Taylor said as a result of the way the state changed the way it reports new COVID-19 cases, they’ve made the switch to reporting new cases one day late for the foreseeable future.