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(Quentin Winstine | The Jonesboro Sun via AP)
Published 04/01/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 40 sec
By BWSTimes Staff
TULSA, Okla. — Governor Kevin Stitt extended his safer-at-home executive order through April 30, to match that of President Donald Trump’s. Gov. Stitt added new provisions to include the closure of non-essential businesses in all 77-counties.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt extended their safer-at-home orders to the end of the month as well.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, most victims succumbing to the coronavirus in the state had a median age of 58. Gov. Stitt said that the majority of victims under 65-years of age had underlying health conditions such as asthma or diabetes. Stitt announced that Oklahomans should expect to see COVID-19 testing increase by the end of this week, announcing that there are now 13,600 testing kits available in the state. The Governor believes Oklahoma will experience its peak of the virus towards the end of April.
Oklahoma Secretary of Health Jerome Loughridge said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon build field hospitals to assist health care workers with additional space for the inevitable coming surge of COVID-19 patients. Loughridge also added that two COVID centers would be located within the state: one in Oklahoma City and the other in Tulsa.
Stitt mentioned that he has a team dedicated to monitoring the number of ICU beds and ventilators in the state should more be needed.
Towards the end of the briefing, multiple journalists who called in — question Stitt on why he has yet to issue an actual shelter-in-place order for Oklahoma, as many governors have done in other states across the country.
Stitt responded, “This is a personal responsibility, and I don’t believe that we can arrest people.” However, the Governor’s comment directly contradicts that of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, who stated just last week, “I want to be clear that this is not a recommendation; this is an order to protect the lives of Tulsans. It will be enforced by the Tulsa Police Department. Officers have the discretion to issue citations and, if absolutely necessary, take people to jail for violation of this order.”
When Stitt was asked about his COVID-19 response, the governor said that he feels he’s doing enough to protect the lives of Oklahomans during the current global pandemic and that earlier preventative measures, such as a statewide shelter-in-place, would have done little to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state. Stitt said that he didn’t think a statewide bunker in place was practical.
Gov. Stitt believes that Oklahomans are doing a great job with his safer-at-home order. However, several events and businesses received citations for violating orders issued in Tulsa and Norman just last weekend.