Seven Grove residents died of COVID in 9 days

About 25 people attended the special Grove City Council meeting on Friday where the final wording of a mask ordinance was passed and went officially placed in effect. The ordinance will be effective until Feb. 2.  

The vote to approve the mask ordinance was 3 to 1 with Ivan Devitt, Marty Dyer and Mayor Ed Trumbull voting in favor and Matt Henderson opposing the ordinance. Josh McElhaney was absent as he is self-quarantining. He submitted a written statement opposing the ordinance.  

The ordinance took effect immediately upon passage on Friday morning. The ordinance requires masks to be worn by everyone 11-years-old or older. While there is no specific penalty for not wearing a mask, a person can be subject to trespass, disturbing the peace, or disorderly conduct penalties if they refuse to wear a mask where required. 

Businesses are required to post signs requiring masks and there is a penalty for failure to post signs. The first and second offenses are $9 and the third and subsequent offenses are $100 each.

Only three people spoke in opposition to the ordinance during the meeting. Most of those attending appeared to favor its passage including several physicians and hospital staff members. 

As of Thursday, Nov. 19, the 7-day average of new cases in Grove was at 48.83 per 100,000 which is double the amount needed to place Grove in the Red Risk Alert Zone. Grove has 76 known active cases; Jay has 51 known active cases; and Delaware County has 243 known active cases.  In the nine days from Saturday, Nov. 11 until Nov. 19, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported seven Grove residents lost their life due to COVID 19.  

Figures statewide indicate a new seven-day average of cases has risen to 2,727 up from 600 to 700 new cases for the same time period a month ago. Hospitalization is also climbing climbing from around 865 at the end of October to 1,434 last week, a 65% increase.  

The continuing increase in cases caused Gov. Ken Stitt to issue new restrictions and mandates although he stopped short of requiring a statewide mask mandate. However, he did have his Chief of Staff call Grove Mayor Ed Trumbull and urge the city to pass a mask mandate.  Mayor Trumbull also said that the head of the Oklahoma Medical Association also called him and urged the city to pass a mask mandate. 

Among those speaking on Friday was Grove School Superintendent Pat Dodson. He said that the school enforces a mask mandate, and it has resulted in the schools remaining open during the year. Only 40 of the more than 2,000 students have tested positive and about 10 staff members. “I need help. We wear masks because we care about somebody else. We need to put others above self. I have been waiting for you to pass this ordinance.” 

Dr. Kyle Schauf, Integris Grove’s Chief Medical Officer and President of the Medical Staff, who advocated for the ordinance said, “This is not forever. It will get us through the winter.” The ICU in Grove has been at capacity on several days recently. Dr. Schauf noted that in areas where there is a mask ordinance cases have risen 34% compared to a 109% increase in cases in cities where there is not a mask ordinance.  

Also speaking in favor of the ordinance was Pastor Robert Carter of the Trinity Baptist Church. He is also president of the Ministerial Alliance and the current president of the Grove Rotary Club. “I do not like wearing masks, but I am urging you to pass this ordinance. We have canceled our on-site worship services. We need to think of other people and protect them as well as ourselves." 

Speaking in opposition to the ordinance was Mark Newman, a co-owner of The Regatta RV Resort and Pourhouse Restaurant. “I have two issues. Masks only change the infection rate by 4 percent and secondly, it is a civil liberty issue… It is a violation of my civil liberties.” He also argued that people were coming to Grove to shop because there is not a mask mandate.  

Another opponent was Nikki Privitera. She asked the council to consider allowing private events such as birthday parties to not be subject to the mask restrictions. However, after some discussion about the issues of large gatherings the council decline to amend the ordinance. 

The city agreed to post a poster that would refer to the ordinance on the city’s website so that businesses could post the mask requirement on their entrance doors.