Virus

A nurse checks a man in line to get a coronavirus test in France on March 23, 2020. Health care leaders around the world are asking people to shelter in place to lessen the burden on the system as more people contract COVID-19. Daniel Cole/Associated Press file

OKLAHOMA CITY — Fifteen medical organizations are urging Gov. Kevin Stitt to issue an order requiring Oklahomans to shelter in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“We urgently request that you issue an executive order that will implement a shelter-in-place policy and close non-essential businesses until this pandemic is truly contained,” said the Monday letter that listed the Oklahoma Hospital Association and Oklahoma State Medical Association among its signers.

Stitt has not asked businesses to close or put more restrictions on movement and business activity.

He has encouraged Oklahomans to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that include social distancing and not meeting in groups of more than 10.

His office did not immediately respond for a request for comment on the letter.

“Current CDC recommendations should be considered a bare minimum,” said the letter. “Even so, these recommendations do include adopting a shelter-in-place policy for states with community transmission of COVID-19.”

Shelter-in-place policies have proven to be the most effective to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the letter said.

“The decisions you make in the coming days will have far-reaching impacts on the duration and severity of this crisis,” the letter said. “Your office can exhibit decisive leadership now to not only mitigate the effects of current infection but to truly prevent the spread of this disease.”​

The full letter is attached to this story. Here is what it says: 

March 23, 2020

Dear Governor Stitt:

On behalf of the undersigned associations and representing thousands of healthcare workers across the state, we emergently urge you to significantly expand the Oklahoma’s “all hands on deck” efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. While we applaud the hard work and efforts your administration has taken thus far, experience from the rest of the country and globally show that these measures are not enough. More aggressive, proactive efforts are necessary if we are to stop the spread of this disease and prevent unnecessary death.

We urgently request that you issue an executive order that will implement a shelter-in place policy and close non-essential businesses until this pandemic is truly contained.

Current CDC recommendations should be considered a bare minimum. Even so, these recommendations do include adopting a shelter-in-place policy for states with community transmission of COVID-19. As the epidemiological model below demonstrates, current efforts are insufficient to combat a pandemic of this magnitude. A shelter-in-place policy is what has proven to be the most effective method globally of combating the spread of COVID-19. At present, 15 states and numerous localities have adopted such measures. This is not just a solution in high-density states like California and New York. Closer to home, the state of Louisiana and the cities of Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis have already adopted such policies.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said the secret to his success was to “skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Likewise, Oklahoma’s leaders need to base such serious decisions not on the numbers and situation in which we find ourselves today (which we already know are inaccurate due to a lack of testing), but on where we could be in the coming weeks or, more appropriately, where we want to be in that time frame. The decisions you make in the coming days will have far-reaching impacts on the duration and severity of this crisis. Your office can exhibit decisive leadership now to not only mitigate the effects of current infection but to truly prevent the spread of this disease.

If we want to flatten the curve, we must get ahead of the curve.

There is no way to know exactly how much effort will be needed to end this plague. But we can assure you that history will be much more kind to those who did too much than those who did too little. The time for wait-and-see is over. The time for bold leadership is now. We respectfully urge you to issue the executive order needed to implement a shelter-in-place policy and save the lives of countless Oklahomans.

As Oklahoma’s leading voices representing the state’s doctors, nurses, hospitals, dentists, dental hygienists, long-term care providers and senior community living centers, we stand ready to assist your administration in implementing this and other policies that will help get us through

this crisis.

Sincerely:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—Oklahoma Chapter

LeadingAge Oklahoma

Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians

Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology

Oklahoma Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists

Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists

Oklahoma Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics

Oklahoma Chapter-American College of Surgeons

Oklahoma Dental Association

Oklahoma Dental Hygienists’ Association

Oklahoma Hospital Association

Oklahoma Nurses Association

Oklahoma Psychiatric Physicians Association

Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists

Oklahoma State Medical Association

This story will be udpated. Check tulsaworld.com for more.


Video: March 22 update from Gov. Stitt on coronavirus in Oklahoma


Barbara Hoberock

405-528-2465

barbara.hoberock@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @bhoberock

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