City manager issues mask mandate for city employees, visitors

JAMES BEATY | Staff photoThis sign outside City Hall informs those entering that the wearing of face masks is now mandatory inside all city facilities due to an increase in the number of people stricken with the COVID-19 omicron variant.

City Manager Pete Satsiak has put new new COVID-19 protocols in place for city-owned property in McAlester, issued in response to a surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

A sign outside the main entrance to City Hall says it all: "Mandatory masks in city facilities."

"We have the mandatory mask mandate regardless of vaccination status," Stasiak said.

"Right now we have 64,000 positive cases in the state," Stasiak told city councilors Tuesday night. "It has almost doubled since last Friday."

Numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health showed 66,444 active COVID-19 cases in the state in its report for Wednesday, Jan 12. That compares to 39,051 in the Health Department's report for last Friday, Jan. 7.

"Five percent of our workforce is out, either quarantined or positive," Stasiak said, using an approximate number of 200 city workers. He said 10 city employees have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are otherwise quarantined because of exposure.

He said he and city staffers are putting a plan together on what the city should do if it loses up to 10% of its employees, or 30, 40 or 50%.

Stasiak sent a memo to all city employees in response to what he called a drastic increase in COVID-19 infection rates.

"As a result, the city of McAlester will be implementing mandatory masks regardless of vaccination status," Stasiak said. The new mask mandate went into effect this week for all city employees, city facilities and for visitors to any of the city's properties.

Masks or cloth face coverings are now required for city of McAlester employees when outside of their immediate work area or when others are in their immediate office or work space. It also applies to field employees.

All city facilities are required to post signs with the mandatory mask requirment, including for visitors.

City employees have been instructed not to report to work if they are sick. They should contact the city's Human Resource or Safety offices if they are experiencing symptoms or have an exposure.

Some guidelines that were previously in place for city employees are now being reinforced.

All employees are instructed through the memo to thoroughly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds regularly and/or to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. "This should be done before and after touching common surfaces such as restrooms, door handles, copy machines, stair rails, elevator buttons coffee makers, etc."

City employees are reminded in the memo to practice proper hygiene by covering their mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing.

They are also advised to avoid touching their face, nose or mouth along with regularly sanitizing surfaces and limiting the number of people entering their work area.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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