Oklahoma Governor Issues Safer at Home Order And Limits Gatherings To 10 Or Fewer
UPDATED MARCH 26, 2020 at 10:26 a.m.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Tuesday several orders - some statewide and some for only counties reporting COVID-19 cases - aimed at stemming the spread of the virus around the state. One order requiring vulnerable populations to stay home, another limiting social gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
Oklahoma reported on Thursday 164 confirmed COVID-19 cases - plus two out-of-state cases - and five deaths.
During a press conference, Stitt said he thinks the actual number of cases will grow as Oklahoma increases its testing capacity.
“Actually, I think our number of cases are closer to over 500 now – they’re going to get into the thousands,” he said. “We are working around the clock with our healthcare community, our education leaders, the public sector, the private sector, the National Guard, and other experts to make sure we minimize the spread and maximize our efforts to fight against this virus.”
Stitt issued a statewide Safer at Home order, requiring all vulnerable populations to stay home until April 30. Exceptions are essential travel only, which Stitt said included trips to the grocery store or pharmacy. Visitations to long-term care facilities are also being suspended until further notice.
He also issued a statewide executive order restricting gatherings of 10 or more people.
“The businesses have really done a good job, up to this point, but I cannot emphasize enough the need for us to continue with social distancing and making sure we don’t get in groups of 10 or more,” Stitt said. “We need all Oklahomans to take this really, really seriously.”
Stitt also issued a statewide 14-day suspension of all elective surgeries, minor medical procedures and non-emergency dental procedures.
In the 19 counties in which COVID-19 cases have been reported, Stitt ordered all non-essential businesses to close by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday and to remain closed through April 15. Those counties include Canadian, Cleveland, Custer, Garvin, Grady, Jackson, Kay, Logan, Mayes, McClain, Muskogee, Noble, Oklahoma, Pawnee, Payne, Pontotoc, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington.
“I don’t make these decisions lightly. I know this affects all four million Oklahomans,” Stitt said, adding that he’s concerned about healthcare workers on the front line as well as the single mother who is living paycheck to paycheck.
Stitt identified businesses like theaters, hair and nail salons, tattoo and massage parlors as non-essential. He encouraged restaurants to remain open, but to offer only curbside, pick-up and delivery services.
When the Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes, Stitt said they will be looking at ways to assist those who have lost their jobs.
Stitt said he also has assigned the Governor’s Solution Task Force to design a plan that will designate certain hospitals in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties as treatment facilities for COVID-19 patients.
“This will allow us to maximize our resources, to protect our healthcare workers and the patients who need them,” he said. “We will share more about those two hospitals in the coming days.”