Walmart becomes latest local retailer to require masks as pandemic drags on

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
Oklahoma has recorded 22,813 cases of COVID-19 since March 6. More than 17,300 recoveries have been recorded, and 432 deaths have been linked to the disease.

Wednesday marked several grim milestones as Oklahoma and other states continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. An additional 1,075 new cases of the disease were recorded statewide, another one-day record, on the same day Oklahoma’s governor announced his positive test result from the day prior and Love County Frontier Days were cancelled until next year.

Carter County recorded 17 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the second highest one-day count. More than half of all county cases, 111 of the 203, have been recorded in July.

Half of all U.S. states now have some form of required face covering in public after Alabama issued an order that goes into effect Thursday, according to USA TODAY. While no local or statewide mask mandates exist in Carter County, Walmart became the latest local retailer to require face coverings for shoppers.

“Currently about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings,” said a corporate statement from Walmart and Sam’s Club on Wednesday. “To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20.

Oklahoma recorded 1,075 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, continuing a trend of rapidly increasing daily confirmations. The seven-day average of new cases in Oklahoma rose past 700.

According to the Love County Frontier Days Facebook page on Wednesday, this year's event has been cancelled. In April, it was announced that the 2020 Love County Frontier Days, originally scheduled for late May, would be postponed due to the virus.

"We are looking forward to returning June 3-5, 2021, and continuing the tradition of Love County’s largest homecoming and celebration," read the Wednesday post.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said he has been tested periodically throughout the pandemic and a test on Tuesday came back positive for the virus, according to The Oklahoman. It is believed that Stitt is the first U.S. governor to test positive.

While other nations have seen strict restrictions lifted and new confirmed cases drop significantly, many U.S. states continue to see numbers rising. Oklahoma has recorded nearly half of all COVID-19 confirmations in the last three weeks and is on pace to record about 20,000 new cases in July alone. Nearly 23,000 cases have been reported in Oklahoma since March.

New and current hospitalizations in Oklahoma also remain at their highest points of the pandemic. The seven-day average of new hospitalizations remained above 50, and a record 561 virus-related hospitalizations were listed on Wednesday. 

Carter County has recorded 203 cases of COVID-19 since March 26. More than 150 cases are considered recovered, and two deaths have been linked to the disease.

Carter County recorded its second highest one-day count of new COVID-19 confirmations and more than 200 confirmed cases recorded since March 25. The 17 new cases recorded Wednesday sent the county total to 203, and 171 of those cases located in Ardmore.