McAlester mayor John Browne said he feels fine after registering a slight fever Tuesday, but it led to a lack of quorum at the city council meeting that night.
The mayor said he was screened at the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter when he registered a slight temperature and he believed not attending Tuesday night’s council meeting was the appropriate action.
“I did not want to get out in public and possibly infect anyone although I feel very confident that it’s not COVID-19 — I think it’s more just sinuses,” Browne said.
Oklahoma implemented a telecommunication amendment to its public meetings law that allows public officials to virtually attend public meetings during the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the amendment, McAlester did not meet the required four members in physical attendance before Vice Mayor and Ward 2 Councilor Cully Stevens announced the lack of quorum Tuesday night.
“We do not have a quorum present,” Stevens said.
Stevens said the meeting was canceled. The council will have an emergency meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Ward 6 Councilor Zach Prichard expressed concern about the mayor potentially being infected with COVID-19.
City Manager Pete Stasiak told councilors that the mayor planned to be tested for COVID-19 at the mobile site set for the Expo Center on Wednesday.
All councilors applauded the precautionary move and urged everyone to remain calm and not panic.
Councilors were set to discuss a hotel/motel tax, whether to reschedule the April 7 general election date, and a resolution declaring an emergency in the city due to the coronavirus.
A civil emergency proclamation Stasiak issued by way of city ordinance on March 20 placed closures and restrictions on certain businesses in city limits for 48 hours starting at 12:01 a.m. March 21.
Councilors voted during Monday morning’s emergency meeting to extend the order to 8 p.m. Tuesday and discuss it under new business at the meeting that night. The order expired at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
After a lack of quorum at the Tuesday meeting, councilors said they plan to have the same agenda at the Wednesday meeting.