OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt has extended the State of Emergency pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic as new COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to significantly increase.
Stitt issued a Sixth Amended Executive Order 2020-20 on Friday, thereby extending the COVID-19 state of emergency that has been in effect since March 15.
“As COVID-19’s impact continues to affect our State and its citizens, it is important to continue to take measures to protect all Oklahomans against this threat,” Stitt said in the amended Executive Order. “Therefore, I believe, after consultation with numerous health experts within my administration, it is still necessary to provide for the rendering of mutual assistance among the State and political subdivisions of the State and to cooperate with the Federal Government with respect to carrying out emergency functions during the continuance of the State emergency pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Emergency Management Act of 2003.”
The Executive Order was amended to remove the previous extension of all occupational licenses and give licensees 60 days to pay or renew any licenses extended by prior orders.
The amended order also updates hospital and testing reporting requirements and changes the days on which the Oklahoma State Department of Health is required to provide the governor information summaries from “daily” to “each weekday.”
Oklahoma has seen record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations and new case numbers in recent days.
OSDH reported 1,373 new COVID-19 cases and 13 additional deaths caused by the virus in 24 hours on Friday.
The Department of Health also reported 956 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Friday, a new record high for the state. That high number tops the previous record high set the day before with 910 hospitalizations.
New COVID-19 cases hit back-to-back record highs on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10, with 1,524 new cases on Oct. 9 and 1,533 new cases on Oct. 10. There were 1,475 new COVID cases on Tuesday and 1,307 on Wednesday. Oklahoma has had 113,856 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March.
COVID-19 deaths have also been getting higher and higher in the state. OSDH reported 19 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, one day after reporting 18 new deaths.
The highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a 24-hour period was 21 deaths on April 21. There have been 1,234 COVID-19 deaths in the state since March.
State medical experts, such as Dr. Dale Bratzler, the University of Oklahoma’s Chief COVID Officer, have called upon Stitt to enact a face mask mandate to curb the spread of COVID-19 and minimize coronavirus deaths.
While Stitt has urged Oklahomans to wear face masks in public, he rejects enacting a statewide mask mandate, saying he doesn’t believe in a “one size fits all solution.”
Bratzler, however, says face masks, keeping a distance and washing hands are essential in staying healthy and out of the state’s decreasing number of COVID-19 hospital beds.
He pointed out that OSDH data shows that cities with mask mandates have a lower COVID-19 infection rate.
“We can continue to go along and just keep waiting and hoping that we get a vaccine out,” Dr. Bratzler said. “Or we can do more aggressive things to slow the spread of the disease and to save people’s lives.”
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