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Stitt Says Some COVID-19 Test Restrictions Will be Dropped, Expands Executive Orders


Gov. Kevin Stitt said Wednesday the state must ramp up COVID-19 testing this week.

Stitt said the state has 13,600 tests available, and some restrictions on who can be tested are being lifted.

"Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have come in contact with someone with COVID needs to be tested this week," Stitt said.

Test results will be used to improve state models, which currently project a spike in cases late this month. Stitt says that means additional steps to flatten the curve are needed now. So, he’s expanding executive orders issued last month, but that does not include a statewide "shelter in place" order.

"It's unpractical for us to do a bunker in place for the next 30 days because not everybody can get their food delivered, we have to get out and do some things," Stitt said.

Instead, Stitt extended until April 30 orders for those over 65 or with serious medical conditions to stay home. The same date now applies to a suspension of minor medical procedures as well.

Stitt also expanded his order closing non-essential businesses and limiting restaurants to takeout to all 77 counties rather than just those with cases of community spread of COVID-19. Stitt said people must take "personal responsibility" during the pandemic, and he encouraged Oklahomans to avoid gatherings, wash their hands frequently and maintain a distance of 6 feet from people if they must go out. 

During Wednesday's update, officials said they are building the state’s supply of personal protective equipment for health care providers, millions of dollars of which was purchased on the open market. Oklahoma Secretary of Health Jerome Loughridge said the national stockpile of equipment was the state's "stockpile of last resort."

Officials are also continuing with plans for two COVID-19-only hospitals, one in Tulsa and one in Oklahoma City. Loughridge said outside of those facilities, other state hospitals are developing plans to handle a 40% surge in patients, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are evaluating potential sites for field hospitals.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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