Published 05/12/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 48 sec
TULSA, Okla. — Save Our State, a grassroots coalition of nearly 55,000 Oklahomans, is calling on Governor Kevin Stitt to delay the Phase 2 reopening scheduled for Friday, May 15th. The group is also renewing its month-long calls for the governor to issue thorough policies as opposed to vague guidelines for businesses to follow upon reopening to keep staff and patrons safe – a request made by nearly 3,000 Oklahomans in a public letter to the governor weeks ago.
In the last week alone, 36 Oklahomans have lost their lives to COVID-19. Across our state, 274 families are grieving the loss of their loved ones and more than a thousand others are currently suffering with the disease. Despite the data from the state department of health failing to show a clear, sustained, downward trend in overall active cases, new cases or deaths, Governor Stitt announced yesterday that he plans to move forward with Phase 2 of reopening. We are calling on him to delay this reopening phase.
Currently, the state’s plans for Phase 2 include bars, organized sports, weddings and more. The plan states that these facilities can open and activities resume “under social distancing protocols”. The plan, however, does not offer specific, detailed guidance and instead refers individuals to the CDCs guidelines, which state that people should “not gather in groups” and should “avoid crowded places.”
Already in Phase One, it is clear that while some businesses are taking full precautions to keep themselves and their employees safe, others are not. It is also clear that the state has not yet built the testing or contact tracing infrastructure needed to safely reopen. This, coupled with individuals re-engaging in the economy without practicing social distancing or wearing a mask or other form of face covering, serves to increase the likelihood that infections, hospitalizations and deaths will needlessly increase.
Repeatedly, the governor has called on individual Oklahomans to take “personal responsibility” for their health and wellbeing. However, he fails to take this same personal responsibility as he conducts interviews in gyms and office spaces while shaking hands, not wearing a mask and not practicing social distancing measures.
Oklahoma is not exiting a crisis, it is in the middle of one.
Governor Stitt must show the leadership, empathy and understanding that our state needs in this difficult time. He must ensure that we are truly being fact and data-driven, truly taking all possible steps to protect the lives of those around us and truly being proactive in slowing the spread of the virus while shoring up our economy. He must lead by example.
Continuing down a hasty path toward undoing the already minimal safety measures put in place will not only exacerbate the reach of the pandemic, but it will also likely force greater economic hardship on businesses and families in the weeks and months to come. We are calling on the governor to take personal responsibility, delay phase two, issue decisive and thorough policies and act to save lives immediately.