Oklahoma governor eliminates state's remaining COVID-19 restrictions

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced Thursday that he is lifting the state’s remaining coronavirus restrictions.

Stitt said in a news conference that he will sign an executive order on Friday, under which “there will be no statewide restrictions on events and on Oklahomans," including removing a requirement that masks must be worn in state government buildings.

“The standard for normal cannot be zero cases. In Oklahoma, the standard for normal is freedom,” he said. “As long as I’m governor, I will protect the freedom of Oklahomans.”

The move comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned against lifting COVID-19 restrictions simply because cases are declining and more people are getting vaccinated.

Still, a dozen other states have recently lifted some or all of their restrictions, including Texas, Mississippi and Maryland.

Stitt warned that the coronavirus isn't going anywhere any time soon and encouraged residents to wear masks. 

“Let me be clear, COVID is still here … and we still need to do our part. You can still, and you’re even encouraged, to wear a mask, depending on your circumstances,” he said..

Stitt never signed a statewide mask mandate and the state removed most of its restrictions in June.

Lance Frye, the state’s health commissioner, said that the state’s seven-day average of coronavirus infections has decreased from around 2,200 when the pandemic began to around 800. The state currently has a seven-day average of around 615 cases.