Coronavirus Outbreak

An electron microscope shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 emerging from the surface of cells. The virus causes COVID-19. NIAID-RML/via AP

Gov. Kevin Stitt should be more aggressive in the face of the spreading COVID-19 virus.

On Tuesday, Stitt ordered the closing of all nonessential businesses in 19 Oklahoma counties where at least one person has tested positive for COVID-19. The order, which includes Tulsa County, starts at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday and lasts 21 days.

Statewide, Stitt ordered an end to gatherings of more than 10 people. He also ordered all vulnerable Oklahomans — older people, those with suppressed immune systems and others — to stay at home except for essential business, such as picking up food and medicine.

While the governor has progressively been taking stronger action, we believe it’s time to go further.

The complicated order tries to divide the state into sick and well buckets based on outdated and incomplete testing. We’re concerned 19 counties may not be enough. We live in a mobile society. So an infected person in Tulsa County today might have been in an uninfected county yesterday, and there’s no accounting for people who haven’t been diagnosed yet.

A comprehensive, statewide strategy with more specifics and less room for evasion is needed.

In a Monday letter, 15 of the most respected medical professional groups — including the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Hospital Association and the Oklahoma Nurses Association — urged Stitt to implement a statewide shelter-in-place order. That would close nonessential businesses until this pandemic is truly contained.

We agree. A shelter-in-place policy is what has proved to be the most effective method globally of combating the spread of COVID-19.

While we applaud the governor’s action, we are concerned that half measures and recommended compliance are not good enough. We all share one health care system, and unless Stitt acts more comprehensively to protect it, we are all in danger.

We know that because the people on the front lines — the medical professionals — are saying so.

Listen to them, Gov. Stitt, and act.

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