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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Hours after officials announced that 17 Oklahomans have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, state leaders held a news conference to encourage residents to take precautions.

On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Kevin Stitt held a news conference to encourage Oklahomans to follow guidelines from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I know Oklahomans are hurting. A lot of them are anxious and fearful of the future, but I want Oklahomans to know that we will get through this,” said Gov. Stitt.

Stitt says because the situation regarding the virus is evolving rapidly, the guidelines that Americans should follow are also changing.

At this point, Stitt says he is issuing an executive order to encourage all Oklahomans to take appropriate measures by avoiding gatherings of 10 people or more, and avoid discretionary travel.

After speaking with the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, Stitt says that he knows many businesses are concerned about the future in light of COVID-19.

Although state leaders say people shouldn’t eat inside restaurants, Stitt says he is encouraging people to use drive-thrus and pickup options in order to support those businesses.

Stitt says he is also encouraging businesses to allow workers to work from home rather than coming into an office.

“We need our job creators to get creative during these times,” Gov. Stitt said.

At this point, state leaders say it is everyone’s job to protect the most vulnerable in the community.

Stitt says that many Oklahoma grocery stores have committed to reserving the first hour of business for the elderly. This will allow those who are vulnerable to severe COVID-19 cases to shop right after the stores have been deeply cleaned.

Also, the governor says that there is no disruption to the country’s supply chain, so there is no reason to stock up on items.

“There is no need to stock up on anything,” he said.

State officials urge Oklahomans to stay away from ill patients and to frequently wash their hands. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

The virus is mainly spread from person-to-person, and symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after exposure. Officials stress that the most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Health experts say 80 percent of COVID-19 cases will be mild. State leaders are encouraging those patients to not head to the hospital unless it is necessary.

“It is critical that we do not flood ERs if symptoms are early,” Stitt said.

While many Oklahomans will still head to restaurants to place to-go orders, officials say they are still concerned about the negative impact this will have on the industry.

“That’s what keeps you up at night,” he said.

Stitt says the federal government is currently looking at ways to mitigate the negative impact on workers. He says he signed the disaster declaration in order to get assistance for small businesses.

He says his administration is also looking at other ways to help.

“We’ll make sure we do whatever we need to do,” he said.