City of Stillwater: Following COVID-19 spike, new and restrictive emergency proclamations possible

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STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – City leaders in Stillwater say they are monitoring the spike in COVID-19 cases which could lead to new, restrictive emergency proclamations.

According to the City of Stillwater on Thursday, the city is up to 147 active cases – a number that is expected to rise over the weekend, city officials said.

During the shelter-at-home phase this spring, Stillwater’s number hovered around 22 active cases.

“We are concerned,” City Manager Norman McNickle said. “Those of us in local government are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all of our residents. If we have to take action, we will.”

While Stillwater is currently in Phase 3 of the State’s Open Up and Recover Safely Plan (OURS), city leadership is collecting, monitoring, analyzing, and sharing a wide range of key data-driven metrics before it makes decisions that may result in a new emergency proclamation and possibly a step back to Phase 2.

“One key metric that we monitor is if the Stillwater Medical Center is able to care for a spike in coronavirus patients. We ask: Do they have enough beds, ventilators, and personal protection equipment (PPE)?” McNickle said. “We also have to understand what is happening in our community, and what we are seeing are people age 20 to 27 socializing in large groups, not wearing masks and not following other CDC guidelines. This is the reason for the recent spike in Stillwater’s cases.”

Mayor Will Joyce says that he does not want to issue a new, more restrictive emergency proclamation, but that may happen.

“Right now, we are focusing our efforts on more education and public outreach,” Joyce said.

City council recently formed a COVID-19 Communications Committee to focus on outreach. Members include OSU, Payne County Health Department, Oklahoma State Health Department, Stillwater Medical Center and the City of Stillwater Marketing and Civic Engagement Department.

“We need to communicate clearly with our residents, which includes our student residents at OSU and NOC,” Joyce said. “We need everyone to actively follow the CDC guidelines for this pandemic.”

The CDC recommends the following actions:

• Wear mask when unable to socially distance—even if you are asymptomatic.
• Wash your hands and sanitize often.
• Stay home if you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
• Keep away from others who are sick.
• Limit close contact with others. Stay at least 6 feet apart.
• Be an advocate for at-risk populations.

“We ask that everyone become an advocate for at-risk populations,” McNickle said. “Even if you don’t think you are vulnerable or that you are in contact with those at-risk—you are. Your actions, or lack of actions, have a direct impact on your fellow residents. Please be considerate. Wear your masks. Limit close contact with others.”

“We’ve done a great job locally up to this point, and we are not going to eradicate coronavirus through social distancing alone,” Joyce said on social media. “There will be cases in our community going forward, so we all need to commit to keeping the virus in check. If we work together, care for our neighbors, and take the recommended precautions, we can keep our community safe and healthy. Please wear a mask in public, stay home as much as possible, avoid crowds, and minimize personal contact.”

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