ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – As case numbers spike in Odessa, City Council members met today to discuss a possible mask ordinance.
Throughout Texas, more than 5,000 cases have been confirmed each of the last six days. In Odessa, nearly 200 cases were confirmed last week.
Mayor David Turner expressed his concern about the rising numbers last week and noted that another shut down, or steps backward in the fight against COVID-19 could be disastrous for Odessa.
In fact, a step backwards is exactly what took place last week as Gov. Greg Abbott announced an executive order closing bars across the state and reducing the capacity at restaurants to 50 percent.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health. We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part. Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can. I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again.”Mayor David Turner
Medical Officials agreed and one local doctor even called on Mayor Turner and County Leaders to enact a mask ordinance for the city to help slow the spread of the virus.
Dr. Rohith Saravanan says a mask ordinance is something they can do locally to help slow the spread of the virus and even if it isn’t enforceable, he hopes the community will take it more seriously.
Heeding those warnings, Mayor Turner revealed that he asked the City Attorney to begin drafting a mask ordinance. It’s a move that has caused some backlash from residents, but Turner says it is what they need to do to keep the economy going while also combating the virus.
“I’ve gotten a few threats, it is just part of it. People are very frustrated, they are cooped up and it is just part of it,” Turner said. “What has happened in the past 24 hours with the Governor, is exactly what we didn’t want to happen. We cannot afford to close this city down because we have 16 percent unemployment. We have to keep these people employed, but we have to get the numbers to slow down.”
Ultimately, the mask ordinance was rejected by the city council with just one vote for the proposed ordinance.