Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s COVID-19 point of no return quickly approaches

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Published 03/22/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 54 sec 

By The Editorial Board 

According to “COVID Act Now, if Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt continues with the current containment strategy of just school closures and encouraging optional social distancing, the state will face a point of no return — March 28 to April 2. After April 2, Oklahoma hospitals will be overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. 

Using data from current cases, state hospital capacity, spread and contagion rate and more, the model provides three different scenarios for the state of Oklahoma after three months:

1. Continuation of current action: 

    • Over 70% of the state’s population infected 
    • Hospitals overloaded with patients by April 28th
    • A peak of more than 31,000 hospitalizations by mid-May
    • As many as 58,000 deaths in the state by June

 2. California-style “Shelter In Place”:

    • Roughly 3% of the state’s population infected
    • Hospitals not overloaded within the three-month time frame
    • Peak hospitalizations of less than 1,000 people by Mid-May
    • As many as 1,000 deaths in the state by June

3. Wuhan-style full lockdown:

    • Fewer than 1% of the state’s population infected
    • Hospitals never overloaded
    • Minimal hospitalization
    • Fewer than 1,000 deaths in the state by June

Cities like Tulsa and Oklahoma City have taken steps to slow the spread of the virus by following CDC guidelines and ordering the closure of businesses and prohibiting dining in local restaurants and bars (limiting them to take-out options only). Up until recently, many suburban areas like Skiatook and Broken Arrow continued with normal operations, declaring themselves “open for business”.

As new cases of COVID-19 continue to be confirmed across Green Country and public backlash grows, Broken Arrow chose to shift strategy while other municipalities continue allowing nonessential businesses to remain open; increasing the chance for community spread.*

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When asked about a state-wide moratorium on business activity that would adhere to the guidance set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, Governor Stitt stated that it was “not the government’s job” to restrict operations of local businesses.

In addition to the COVID Act Now model, a widely-publicized report from Imperial College shows equally dire outcomes, noting that unless states across the nation take drastic action immediately, millions of Americans could die and an unimaginable strain could be placed on our healthcare system. 

It’s critical to note that both of these models suggest that similar action will need to be taken again in the fall and winter to prevent the potential for millions of deaths then as well until a viable vaccine can be created and made public.

Study after study indicates two undeniable realities:

  1. Local, state and federal officials must take drastic action now (a shelter-in-place order) to stop a humanitarian crisis we have not faced in over a century and
  2. This crisis will be long (perhaps nine months to a year-long) and will require enormous amounts of endurance, patience and collaboration if we are to save tens of millions of lives.

The crisis is coming – how we respond will undoubtedly determine the futures of so many of our fellow Oklahomans in the months and years ahead.

*Update: The city of Skiatook declared an emergency on Saturday, March 21 and took actions similar to Tulsa in limiting public interaction.

 

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