By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be out during the first week in December – but it’s unclear how many Yukon will receive.
The City of Yukon’s COVID-19 Task Force met Nov. 18 as members shared updates on the virus in Yukon and Canadian County.
Canadian County Health Department (CCHD) community liaison Maggie Jackson reported health care workers will be the first to receive the new vaccine, along with residents and employees of nursing home and senior facilities.
Individual residents will follow during the second phase of vaccine distribution.
Most trials are showing 90-95% effective rates with no serious side effects.
But Jackson referred to studies that indicate only about 20-30% of people will even be willing to take the vaccine.
There were 631 active COVID cases on Nov. 19 in Canadian County as numbers continue to rise.
“We have to slow the spread of this virus because our healthcare system is overloaded,” Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said.
“The election is over. This is not a political issue. This is a health and economic issue.”
Although COVID case numbers are growing, Jackson noted Canadian County still has a low fatality rate.
But she called on Yukon-area residents to remain proactive to combat the virus spread.
Jackson reported the health department has a rapid molecular test that is “almost impossible” to get a false positive.
‘STAY IN PLACE’
Officials at Yukon’s largest senior care facility, Spanish Cove Retirement Village, are encouraging their people to “stay in place” for Thanksgiving.
Spanish Cove CEO Don Blose said if residents decide to leave the campus, they need to consider the size of the family gathering – 10 people or fewer is better and outside is preferred over inside.
Blose, who worked 26 years for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, encourages people to wear masks except when eating and to practice social distancing.
Mayor Selby also encouraged residents to keep their Thanksgiving gatherings small.
Meanwhile, Blose said Spanish Cove tests employees in the Health Care Center twice weekly. If there is a positive test, the residents are then tested.
No visits are allowed in the Health Care Center.
Spanish Cove, along with other senior care facilities and hospitals, is struggling to find health care workers.
NO MASK MANDATE
While many COVID Task Force members support a mask requirement in public places, Gov. Kevin Stitt has refused to issue a statewide mandate.
Oklahoma’s governor did recently close restaurants and bars at 11 p.m.
Yukon is “not close to being receptive” to a mask mandate, Mayor Selby advised the task force.
“I see more people wearing masks, but I think there are some who – if it was mandated – would stop wearing,” Selby said. “I want us to each educate and strongly encourage all to wear masks.
“Please, think of others and wear your mask.”
In Jackson’s COVID Task Force report, the CCHD official referred to a study showing communities with a “mask mandate” had a 34% increase in cases – with cities without a mandate showing a 104% hike.
Jackson, in late July, encouraged the Yukon City Council to implement a citywide mask mandate.
Also noteworthy from the Nov. 18th Yukon COVID Task Force meeting:
- Yukon Police Chief John Corn reported officers are not placing people in jail unless “absolutely necessary” to help reduce numbers. A list of Yukon residents who have tested positive or been treated has quadrupled.
- Yukon Fire Chief Shawn Vogt reported two firefighters are in quarantine and the department’s COVID-related volume has “increased tremendously.”
- Assistant City Manager Tammy Kretchmar said the City of Yukon has 10 employees out after being exposed or testing positive for the virus.