Oklahoma physicians want emergency order as COVID cases rise

Mike Seals - July 27, 2021 10:59 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Health officials in Oklahoma on Tuesday urged Gov. Kevin Stitt to issue an emergency declaration that would allow for expanded care for those with COVID-19 — something the Republican has said he will not do.

Such a declaration would mean hospitals dealing with an increase in cases could convert areas such as conference rooms into bed space for non-COVID patients, said Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the state medical association.

“A hospital cannot just randomly decide, ‘I’m going to make a hospital bed tomorrow’” in another area because of state and federal regulations, Clarke said. “The emergency order allows that to happen.”

An emergency order would also allow public schools to issue mask mandates.

Democrats in the Oklahoma House have also called for the emergency declaration.

“Needs across Oklahoma are different, and one thing is clear — we need local control returned and we need it now,” Rep. Melissa Provenzano, a Democrat from Tulsa said in a Monday statement.

Stitt ended the state’s previous emergency declaration in May and, during a news conference Friday, said he has no plans to issue another.

“This is about personal responsibility,” Stitt said in Tulsa. “This is about freedoms.”

Data from Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday shows the seven-day rolling average of new cases in Oklahoma has risen from 487.1 daily on July 11 to 1,158.9 on July 25.

The state health department on Tuesday reported 577 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Dr. David Kendrick of the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine said Oklahoma has not developed a way to track the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are unvaccinated, but estimated they make up 99.5% of such cases.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 46.9% of Oklahomans had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday and 39.9% were fully vaccinated. Nationwide 56.9% of the population had received one vaccination and 49.1% were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.


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