OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Oklahoma continues to see a rise in COVID-19 cases, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt says it is up to residents to take control and slow the spread of the virus.
On Thursday, data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that the state has had 164,340 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March.
That’s an increase of 2,915 cases, or a 1.8% increase.
There were 18 additional deaths caused by the virus, bringing the state’s total number of deaths to 1,588.
Mayor Holt says that although many people may be tired with the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that November has brought a third wave to the city.
Around Nov. 1, the metro area’s 7-day average was 300 new COVID-19 cases per day. Now on Nov. 19, it has risen to 800 new cases per day.
“You have to assume that any room that you have entered this month in Oklahoma City that had more than 25 people in it almost surely had someone who was actively infected with COVID-19. The virus is everywhere,” Holt said.
Within the last three weeks, one out of every 100 people in the Oklahoma City metro has tested positive for COVID-19.
In addition to a jump in the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations has been breaking records in recent days.
“These are not asymptomatic cases. These are not mild cases. They’re not in the hospital because we’re doing more testing. These patients are real people and they are real evidence that our current wave is in many ways far worse than those we have previously experienced,” Holt said.
Holt says, “For at least the next 10 days, it’s okay to politely decline the invitation. If a friend wants to get together, just say the mayor said we should catch up over the phone.”
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Right now, healthcare officials stress that they do not have the staff to handle these types of surges.
“Our community’s healthcare system is essentially at capacity,” he said.
For the next 10 days, Holt is asking residents to take a break from high-risk activities to help protect those around us.
“There’s been a lot of talk about personal responsibility the last few weeks, and I think some listeners have associated the words with the wrong definition. When you’re asked to take on personal responsibility in this pandemic, no one is talking about taking responsibility for your person. You may think you want to play the odds. You may think you probably won’t catch it, and if you do, you probably won’t have a serious case. Well, first of all, you’re wrong on both counts especially right now. As I said earlier, every room that you enter has COVID-19 in it. And about 10% of all cases end up in the hospital. You probably didn’t think that number was that high. But in any case, you’re not pushing your life or your health to the middle of the table when you make that bet. You’re betting with my kids’ education. You’re betting with the health of a nurse. You’re betting with the life of a 60-year-old grandmother who saved up her whole career so she could retire and enjoy her grandkids. When you lose your bet, we all pay the price. Every new case that gets added to the count ensures that school leaders can’t safely open schools. Every healthcare worker who has to quarantine is a healthcare worker not available to take care of your heart attack. Every life lost leaves sorrow behind. Personal responsibility is an obligation you owe to your fellow human. Just because you haven’t gotten sick doesn’t mean you haven’t been affected. It would be nice if you would take precautions for your own benefit, but please recognize that your choices affect far more people than you,” Holt said.
Healthcare officials stress that even if you have had COVID-19, there is evidence that you could be a risk for reinfection.
Dr. Patrick McGough, with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, says that antibodies may only last 90 days, which means you should not relax your precautions.
On Monday, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced a series of executive orders that he said would keep businesses open but still work to protect Oklahomans.
Beginning Thursday, restaurants must ensure that all tables are six feet apart.
“This will allow them to continue to operate safely while making sure everyone is socially distanced. If they can’t stay six feet apart, they can also install properly sanitized dividers between tables, booths, and bar areas. The goal is to keep groups separated so we can slow the spread of COVID,” he said.
Also, all bars and restaurants must close each night at 11 p.m. However, curbside and drive-thru areas may still remain open.
On Thursday, Holt said that he was issuing an emergency proclamation to enforce the governor’s order.
He says he is encouraging businesses to work remotely next week if it is feasible, and he is also asking employees to not hold in-person meetings at any cost.
Holt also encouraged all residents to order takeout rather than eating inside restaurants. He says you should not meet your friends for the next 10 days in order to slow the spread of the virus.
He warns that Thanksgiving has the potential to be the ‘biggest super-spreader event in history.’
Read his speech in its entirity: