US House Panel Accuses Gov. Stitt Of Ignoring Coronavirus Task Force Guidelines

Wednesday, July 29th 2020, 9:13 pm
By: Erick Payne

TULSA, Okla. -

Governor Kevin Stitt responded on Wednesday after a top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives accused him of not following White House guidelines.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn said the governor didn't do enough to stop the spread of COVID-19. That's after a New York Times report which said the White House Task Force privately called for some states to take stronger steps to fight out-breaks.

Related Story: Gov. Stitt Responds To House Subcommittee Reprimand Of COVID-19 Safety Measures

The unpublished White House Task Force report recommends things like mandating masks and strictly limiting gatherings. In a statement, Governor Stitt said based on state health department data and criteria, there are no counties that would need to take steps like that.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health released their own COVID-19 Alert System a couple of weeks ago. It has four tiers; "new normal," "low," "moderate," and "high."

OSDH said the latest risk levels show 15 counties in Oklahoma are in the orange, "moderate" category, which means they have more than 14.39 cases per 100,000 people. That includes Tulsa, Okmulgee, Wagoner, Mayes, Adair and Ottawa Counties.

The red, "high" level criteria is the same as for the orange level, but you also need to hit 1 of 4 criteria. Those criteria include having less than 5% availability for either ICU beds, medical surgery beds, ventilators, or less than 5 days of PPE on hand statewide.

Based on the state's numbers, if any of those things happened in Oklahoma, all 15 of the moderate counties would move into the "highest" level.

An unpublished White House Task Force report disputes those guidelines, saying Oklahoma is in the red zone for cases with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people in the state, and a test positivity rate above 10%.

The private recommendations include closing bars and reducing indoor dining to 25%. They also suggest mask mandates and expanded testing for 55 of Oklahoma's 77 counties, which are in the White House's definition of red and yellow zones.

Governor Stitt said the Oklahoma State Department of Health guidelines are the "right approach, and the State will continue to deploy transparent data, tracing and testing support, PPE, and additional resources to inform and mitigate areas of concern. We must work together as one state to protect our health and our economy."

The governor also said to wash your hands frequently; watch your distance by staying 6 feet apart from others; and wear a mask when distancing is difficult.