White House Report Puts Oklahoma In The Red Zone For COVID-19 Cases
Oklahoma is in the red zone for COVID-19 cases, according to a White House Coronavirus Task Force document obtained by The Center for Public Integrity.
The report is dated August 16, the same day Dr. Deborah Birx met with Oklahoma officials in Tulsa. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt told reporters that Birx gave no recommendations, but the report contains about a dozen recommendations, including a statewide mask mandate, bar closures and restricted indoor dining.
The report places six metros (Tulsa, Enid, McAlester, Fort Smith, Miami and Guymon) and 12 counties (Tulsa, Rogers, Wagoner, Creek, Garfield, Pittsburg, Sequoyah, Caddo, Osage, Ottawa, Mayes and McCurtain) in the red zone.
However, Oklahoma's COVID-19 Alert System has zero counties in the red zone. Of the 12 red zone counties identified in the White House's report, eight are in the orange zone under Oklahoma's system and four are in the yellow zone.
Of the task force's reports, The Center for Public Integrity said:
The reports offer detailed looks at the pandemic’s status in each state, including federal data on the percentage of positive tests in metro areas that appears not to be available elsewhere. Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the White House task force, said on a private call Wednesday that the reports were “critical to really ensure we’re all looking at the same data and all looking at the same mitigation efforts.” Birx has referenced the reports several times in private calls with local and state health officials. The task force has sent eight weekly reports to governors since late June.
It’s unclear whether governors consistently share the reports with local leaders or even their own state health departments. Tulsa officials never received such a document, the city’s mayor said in July. The Arkansas Department of Health, which receives the weekly reports from the governor’s office, did not have the two most recent ones when Public Integrity inquired August 19.
During a press conference today, Mayor GT Bynum again confirmed that neither state officials nor the governor's office are sharing information from the task force. He said they find out about it only when it's "leaked to the press." https://t.co/ILGxWXLrk4— Catherine Sweeney (@CathJSweeney) August 20, 2020
In July, Rep. James Clyburn, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, alleged that Stitt and Oklahoma had not implemented many of the task force's recommendations and "instead appears to be following the contradictory public messaging coming from the Administration."
In the past seven days, Oklahoma is averaging 662 new cases and 10 new deaths per day.
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