STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – The mayor of Stillwater is declaring a State of Emergency in the city, amid the surging COVID-19 crisis, and is urging residents to get vaccinated and wear face masks, saying the situation has become critical.
Mayor Will Joyce announced Thursday that the State of Emergency will begin at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 3, and remain in effect until 12 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20.
He said the State of Emergency is based on the medical health of the community, and that the COVID-19 situation in Stillwater has reached a critical state, with Stillwater Medical Center full and not enough medical personnel to handle the surging number of COVID patients.
“It is critical that each of us become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks when possible. Our health professionals have incessantly warned us that we may reach the point when much-needed medical attention, COVID or non-COVID related, may not be available,” said Mayor Will Joyce. “We have now reached that critical threshold where our hospital no longer has available staffed beds and without each of us making necessary health changes, the trajectory is anticipated to continue declining.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Health will assist Stillwater by deploying the Medical Reserve Corp, and by issuing a statewide call for healthcare volunteers.
The Medical Reserve Corp will provide additional nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists and medical assistants throughout at least the weekend.
The Reserve Corp will assist in overflow tents that are scheduled to be set up Friday morning outside of the Emergency Department, and help address patient volume increases.
Health officials are concerned that large events over Labor Day weekend will further amplify the COVID patient surge, intensifying a predicament in which hospitals are already packed full with patients.
“The City of Stillwater regularly hosts events and activities which have the potential to attract an influx of 40,000 visitors with the first event on Saturday, Sept. 4. The hospital already serves patients in a six-county area and capacity is full with Intensive Care Unit and medical beds. Currently, additional patients are holding in the emergency department until staffed beds are available,” a Stillwater news release states.
Stillwater residents and visitors who need to be admitted into Stillwater’s hospital this weekend may be instead sent to either a nearby hospital or out-of-state medical facility.
The City Council urges Stillwater residents, per Resolution No. CC 2021-24, to follow recent CDC guidance. The CDC recommends everyone wear a mask in public indoor locations in areas where COVID transmission is high, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The City Council asks residents to keep in mind that businesses and organizations can require masks be worn within their respective facility; residents are asked to respect such requirements. Stillwater police will respond to trespassing complaints made by businesses or organizations that require masks.
City leaders also encourage residents age 12 and older to be vaccinated if they are medically able.
OSU will host vaccine clinics before home football games. The first clinic will be from noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday.
Go to Stillwater.org/covid-19 for additional information regarding vaccination locations.