(Oklahoma City, OK) Governor Kevin Stitt dismissed the idea of closing down businesses despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We’re so far away from talking about this,” the governor said at a news conference. “If you close down, you still are going to have ebbs and flows, and it could last for the next two years. We have to learn how to deal with this and how to keep ourselves safe.”
Most non-essential businesses that were closed in late March through orders by Stitt and local mayors have been open since May 1. Stitt said the state was now 63 days into the reopening.
“We knew we were going to have a little bit of a bump, and a spike in the numbers,” he said.
Cities can take their own steps to reduce business and social activity, as many did in March and April.
The governor’s comments came as another 438 cases were reported on Thursday and the University of Oklahoma mandated that students wear masks at all three campuses.
George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, urged Stitt on Thursday to push state residents to wear masks.
“The public has the information on how to impede the spread of this deadly virus: wear a mask in public; wash hands or use sanitizer often, and conduct social distancing, but too many people are still taking an ‘it’s not my problem’ approach to the virus,” Monks said.
The Oklahoma State Health Department has issued statements and created public service announcements urging people to wear masks, and Stitt said on Thursday that he encourages people to wear them, though he does not in public appearances.
Meanwhile, data from the Oklahoma State Health Department shows active cases — those in which a person who tested positive still has the disease — tripled in the past two weeks, rising to 3,066 on Thursday.
That is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the state’s population. However, Oklahoma Health Commissioner Lance Frye told The Oklahoman, “An increase in active case numbers can be an indicator that the population is engaging in activities that are determinants to transmission of COVID-19 and social distancing is breaking down.”