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State and local officials bypass federal COVID-19 mitigation guidance

Posted at 8:34 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 00:51:23-04

TULSA, Okla. — The state’s response to the pandemic is raising questions. On April 16, the state released a document by the White House Coronavirus Task Force on how to mitigate the spread of the virus in Oklahoma.

According to the report, Oklahoma is in the highest risk category for COVID-19. That means there are at least 100 positive cases per 100,000 people and with a positivity rate above 10 percent.

The latest counties added to the “red zone” list are: Tulsa, Enid, McAlester, Fort Smith, Miami and Guymon. The latest information could change how schools currently operate with in-person instruction.

The federal recommendation for those counties is to wear a face covering at all times, limit social gatherings to 10 people or less and even shut down bars and restaurants. These recommendations come after Dr. Deborah Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus coordinator, met with state officials on Aug. 16.

READ MORE: Dr. Deborah Birx visits Tulsa

Governor Kevin Stitt did not follow Birx’s recommendation and is continuing to follow Oklahoma’s three-phase “Open Up and Recover Safely” plan.

READ MORE: Gov. Stitt addresses Oklahoma's response to COVID-19

In a statement, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum says, "According to our local data, we are seeing outbreaks linked to residential high-risk facilities and group gatherings at weddings, funerals, camps or conferences, not in our bars or restaurants... Since the beginning of the pandemic, Tulsa would use local data to guide our response."

2 Works for You reached out to the governor's office and the state and local health department but have not yet heard back from them.

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