Gov. Stitt confident in data as plan to reopen state remains on schedule

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Correction: The word Palette was changed to Pallet.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The plan for Oklahoma to reopen May 1st continues and although some city leaders have expressed concerns about opening so soon, Governor Kevin Stitt says that the state is ready.

“I know Oklahomans made a lot of sacrifice over this last month.. and because of that we have flattened the curve,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.

The Governor today laid out the latest COVID-19 numbers as Phase One of reopening of Oklahoma is slated for Friday.

Officials say new cases have been on the decline since April 10th and that only 288 of the 4000 hospital beds prepared for COVID patients are currently being used.

Governor Stitt claims that even though testing is up 36% in the last week, positive returns actually dropped 3%.

Right now, only 6% of all tests reportedly come back positive for the virus.

“We will make decisions based on data in the state  Oklahoma not what we are seeing on television,” said Stitt.

The Governor is still urging caution as things reopen, stressing the importance of continued social distancing and testing.

“We’re committed to protecting our most vulnerable populations even as we open up and recover safely here in the state of Oklahoma,” said Stitt.

The Governor and his task force are rolling out new protocol for long term care facilities.

Officials say pallets of masks gloves face shields, and gowns, enough for up to a week, are being sent out to every facility in the state in the next two days.

All nursing home staffers will now be required to wear the PPE moving forward.

“Now that we are more comfortable in our supply of masks, we feel this is right thing so we don’t have new facilities crop up with cases,” said Deputy Secretary of Health and Mental Health, Carter Kimble.

The Governor also announced plans to test all 42-thousand people currently in long term care facilities.

A new saliva-based test will be used that swabs the mouth and is faster to process.

“This is a huge benefit especially for those long term care facility residents where getting a nasal swab can be challenging and uncomfortable,” said Deputy Secretary of Science and Innovation, Elizabeth Pollard

Officials also say National Guard crews will deep clean facilities across the state and 11 rapid response teams have been created to deal with problems if they arise in facilities.

“We have a long way to go in combating this virus but its important to remember that fewer than 15% of our long term care facilities have cases currently in them and our goal is to make sure that that number does nothing but go down,” said Kimble.

But as restaurants, gyms, and other business are set to open, furloughed employees continue to struggle to file for unemployment.

“I know the frustration and anxiety that many Oklahomans are facing with bills that are coming due right now,” said Stitt.

The Governor says 116,000 claims were filled last week on a system designed to process 2,500.

200 help desk workers have been hired to man phones and the State is now printing their own cards to send out instead of relying on out of state vendors.

“I hear Oklahoma’s frustrations, I’m getting daily updates, I’ve got my best team on it. Give me another week and I’m going to have this thing wrapped up and I’m going to have those claims out,” said Stitt.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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