Sen. Casey Murdock says he agrees with Gov. Kevin Stitt that sweeping statewide restrictions are not the most effective strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Murdock, R-Felt, said after looking at New Mexico, a state that has mandated masks statewide and has imposed more severe business restrictions, he found its approach hasn’t resulted in saving more lives or jobs compared to Oklahoma.
“I live just about 12 miles from New Mexico, and from time to time I have business to do there in Clayton. I’ve talked to people there who are frustrated about the statewide mask mandate and their business restrictions, which have gone farther than Oklahoma’s,” Murdock said. “But what’s really interesting is that when you take a look at their outcomes compared to ours, I think it shows their approach really isn’t the fix some people think it is.”
Murdock says there are a lot of similarities between the two states. Energy, farming and ranching are important to both economies. Oklahoma has more people—according to the 2019 population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, Oklahoma had 3.9 million people, compared to just over 2 million for New Mexico.
When you look at the per capita figures, as of Dec. 30, Oklahoma has had 7,172 positive cases per 100,000 people, compared to 6,671 in New Mexico. But Oklahoma had 61 deaths per capita, while New Mexico had 115.
Murdock said in addition to having more deaths per capita than Oklahoma, New Mexico is also dealing with higher unemployment. As of Nov., New Mexico’s 7.5% unemployment rate was above the national average of 6.7% while Oklahoma’s was below the national average at 5.9%.
“As the governor has said, personal responsibility is how we slow the spread of this virus. Some people continue to think that the magic words of ‘statewide mask mandate’ will make everything go away,” Murdock said. “That’s just not true. Oklahoma is doing better than states with stricter restrictions in many categories and I think that’s important to point out.”