Governor Announces “Safer at Home” Order

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

Governor Kevin Stitt was joined by members of his cabinet at a press conference on Tuesday that outlined a “Safer at Home” order similar to those adopted by governors nationwide in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stitt said that the directives were being implemented to “flatten the curve” so that the burden on healthcare resources would be diminished. The idea of “flattening the curve” addresses the fact that resources remain at a steady line of availability, and reducing the likelihood that a large increase of infections all at once will out-pace the resources rather than spanning their utilization out over a longer period of time.

The Governor’s Safer at Home order dictates the following:

• All vulnerable populations will stay at home until April 30, except for essential travel such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy;

• Gatherings are restricted to no more than ten people by Executive Order throughout the state;

• Businesses will continue social distancing, including working from home

• Medical supplies will be preserved and protected, specifically PPE, by suspending all elective surgeries, minor medical procedures, and non-emergent dental procedures;

• All visitation to nursing homes and long-term care facilities is suspended;

• In the 19 counties where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, all non-essential businesses must close and remain closed for 21 days;

• Restaurants are encouraged to remain open but only offer curbside pickup and delivery

“I remain committed to make decisions based on reliable data, the emerging science, and the advice of the experts on my Governor Solutions Task Force on how to best apply social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Stitt said.

Despite the efforts by health care facilities to manage personal protective equipment (PPE) and the spread of the virus, the state anticipates an increase in the number of confirmed cases, as well as its spread to counties that thus far do not have a confirmed diagnosis.

“We know that as we continue to increase our testing capacity, we will continue to have an increased number of cases,” Stitt said. “Actually I think our number of cases is over 500 right now and they will continue to get into the thousands.”

Governor Stitt addressed critics who believe that limiting the restrictions to only the affected 19 counties is not enough, saying that he and his administration believed they are taking appropriate steps to slow the transmission of the virus and increase testing. He said that the directive will extend to any additional counties as cases are confirmed in those areas and continue for the same duration.

EDITOR'S NOTE: At the time Governor Stitt gave Tuesday's press conference, there were 19 counties affected by his directive. At this time there are cases of COVID-19 in 27 counties in Oklahoma, including Stephens County.