Governor Kevin Stitt is under fire for how he is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Rep. James Clyburn, chairman of the U.S. House COVID oversight panel, demands Gov. Stitt shows how the state of Oklahoma is combating the pandemic.
The letter said the state is not following five of the strict recommendations to prevent COVID-19.
The letter said four states, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, are not following strict recommendations from an unpublished report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force despite being “red zone” states.
According to the letter, the unpublished report said, "Oklahoma continues to have high number of cases diagnosed and high test positivity" and that "more counties and CBSAs [core-based statistical areas] are in the red zone this week.”
The unpublished report recommends closing bars and gyms, reducing indoor dining to 25 percent capacity, and limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
The letter said Stitt made it clear that he has no plans to roll back the state’s reopening or place a statewide mask mandate.
On Wednesday, Stitt responded that local leaders are utilizing a COVID-19 alert system created by the Oklahoma State Department of Health to inform local leaders about decisions regarding the pandemic.
Leveraging the White House’s initial methodology, OSDH deployed a similar version of a COVID-19 risk alert map to empower local leaders to make critical decisions based on the unique dynamics in their counties. The regions of concern have stepped up to implement more stringent public health policies and guidance for businesses that take into consideration population density and the data from local contact tracing efforts. OSDH has not identified a “red risk” county based on its four gating criteria for how COVID-19 is impacting Oklahoma’s healthcare system. This is the right approach, and the State will continue to deploy transparent data, tracing and testing support, PPE, and additional resources to inform and mitigate areas of concern. We must work together as one state to protect our health and our economy. Wash your hands frequently; watch your distance by staying 6 feet apart from others; and wear a mask when distancing is difficult.
The latest update of the map from Thursday, July 23, shows there are no counties in the red zone.
National maps vary.
According to a map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma is in the second-highest category for reported COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, a map from the Harvard Global Health Institute places Oklahoma in the red zone for daily new cases per 100,000 people.
The letter is asking for documents and information about how the state is handling the pandemic by Aug. 12.
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