Stitt: Oklahomans should continue practicing social distancing as state reopens

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In a matter of days, businesses across several communities will reopen their doors to the public.

Although some city leaders have expressed concerns about opening on May 1, Gov. Kevin Stitt says that the state is ready.

Stitt says that state leaders have paid close attention to the White House guidelines for reopening in phases, adding that Oklahoma has met the recommendations for reopening.

Stitt says that hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have continued to decline across the state.

At the same time, the number of patients who are going to the doctor with flu-like symptoms is also dropping.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Gov. Stitt said, adding that Oklahomans need to continue to use caution and practice social distancing measures.

At the same time, state officials say they want to continue to increase testing in the state.

Stitt said that anyone who wants to be tested, even if they are asymptomatic, can call 211 to talk about testing.

On Monday, officials say PPE was shipped to nursing homes across the state in an effort to protect residents and healthcare workers in those facilities.

In recent weeks, some Oklahoma nursing homes have become hot spots for COVID-19 cases.

“We are committed to protecting our most vulnerable populations, even as we open up safely,” Stitt said.

Officials are encouraging nursing homes to require face masks in their facilities.

State leaders say they are also working to expand testing in nursing homes with the development of a COVID-19 saliva test.

Virus Outbreak Nursing Home Testing
Dr. Gabrielle Beger, left, prepares to take a nose-swab sample from Lawrence McGee as she works with a team of University of Washington medical providers conducting testing for the new coronavirus at Queen Anne Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Seattle. Sending “drop teams” from University of Washington Medicine to conduct universal testing at skilled nursing facilities in collaboration with public health officials is one aspect of the region’s approach to controlling the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

When it comes to unemployment, officials say that the state processed 116,000 unemployment claims and paid more than $3 million in benefits last week.

“I know the frustration and anxiety many Oklahomans are facing right now,” Stitt said.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is also starting to pay PUA claims to Oklahomans who were not eligible for traditional unemployment.

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