Gov. Stitt receives letter saying he ignored White House recommendations for response to COVID-19

Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt received a letter on Wednesday stating that Oklahoma was not in compliance with recommendations by the Congressional subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis for COVID-19 response.

Now, the subcommittee, chaired by Rep. James Clyburn (D – S.C.) is now asking for documents. The documents being requested deal with Oklahoma’s guidance in their response to the pandemic, their past and current decisions and any future plans they have to combat the pandemic.

The letter written to Gov. Stitt can be seen here.

“From the very beginning I want to share every piece of data and then let Oklahomans know exactly where we are in our state,” Stitt said in a July 15 news conference. “I’m so proud of how we’ve handled it this far.”

The letter sent by the subcommittee claims he ignored White House guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The letter lists five areas of non-compliance. By failing to limit large gatherings to 10 people or less for counties in the red zone and 25 people or less for those in yellow; failing to close bars; failing to reduce indoor dining capacity to 25 percent; failing to close or limit gym capacities; and failing to require masks for businesses in red and yellow zones with the ability to social distance. The letter also states that “the White House Task Force has privately called for states to take stronger steps to combat the pandemic, such as mandating face masks and social distancing. At the same time, the administration has made numerous public statements that contradict those recommendations and downplay the severity of the crisis.” The last recommendation listed is something Stitt has said he doesn’t want to do.

“We want to give businesses the freedom,” Stitt said in his July 15 news conference. “You can’t pick and choose what freedoms you’re going to give people.”

According to Clyburn, Oklahoma is in “the red zone for cases indicating more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week, and the red zone for test positivity, indicating a rate above 10 percent.”

The governor’s office issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“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.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt

The COVID alert map developed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows counties like Oklahoma and Tulsa with the most cases state-wide, but not in the red zone.

That map can be viewed on the OSDH website by clicking here.

“I’m just sharing with Oklahomans now, we have to be cautious, we have to kind of adjust to the new normal,” Stitt said in his July 15 news conference.

The governor’s office did not state why or even if they were not in compliance with the subcommittee’s recommendations. The letter states that the governors that received the letter have until Aug. 12 to respond. The governor’s office has made no indication on their plans regarding that.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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