“People are staying at home because they don’t want to die,” Oklahoma mayor stresses importance of social distancing

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – City leaders in Oklahoma say that while hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 seem to be flattening, it is not time stop taking precautions.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 1,794 Oklahomans have tested positive for COVID-19 since early March.

Since then, officials say 88 patients have died from the virus.

The data shows that more Oklahomans have died from the novel coronavirus in the last three weeks than those who died from the flu over the past seven months.

In the Oklahoma City metro area, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt says there has been 701 cases and 32 deaths related to COVID-19.

“Relative to what COVID-19 is capable of, we’re doing OK,” Holt said.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that Oklahoma is closing in on an anticipated peak.

The data indicates that the state will hit its peak around April 22 when 1,115 hospital beds will be needed.

The IHME also predicts that 697 Oklahomans could die from the virus by August. While that number seems shockingly high, officials indicate that it is actually a drop from an earlier prediction. Earlier this week, the agency said 813 Oklahomans could die in that same timeframe.

“We are living through a 100-year pandemic,” Holt said.

Although the data seems to suggest that the public’s social distancing practices are paying off, officials say Oklahomans should not let their guards down.

“The virus is contagious and it is deadly,” he added.

Holt says that although some people are not listening to health experts or local leaders regarding social distancing rules, he says many Oklahomans don’t need a restriction in place. Instead, they’re using common sense and know how dangerous the situation is.

“Most people staying home are not doing so because of my proclamation. People are staying home because they don’t want to die,” Holt said.

Holt says that there is no timetable for when life will get back to normal. Instead, he says the city will rely on data to show when restrictions can be lifted.

“We are right in the middle of this fight,” he said.

Although he says he doesn’t plan to implement any additional restrictions, he says that residents and businesses should continue practicing caution.

He urges all essential retail establishments to put limits in place regarding the number of people inside stores and how close together customers can stand.

Holt also is encouraging everyone to wear a mask in public and keep their distance from other people.

“Please take this seriously,” he said.

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