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Oklahoma State Medical Association President: Stitt's Virus Reopen Plan "Probably Premature"

Governor Kevin Stitt Facebook page
Governor Kevin Stitt at the Capitol on Wednesday outlining his plan to begin reopening some businesses following mandated closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association said Thursday that he is not confident that Governor Kevin Stitt's plan to begin reopening the state's economy on April 24th is a good idea.

"We think it's probably premature," said Dr. George Monks. "It's probably a hasty or overambitious plan to open up this soon."

Monks said that the criteria issued by the Trump administration for when to begin reopening states include at least two weeks of declining cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He said that the state is actually seeing growth in the spread of the virus, citing the Oklahoma State Department of Health's own released data.

"There's definitely not a two-week downward trend in any of these metrics," Monks said.

Stitt announced Wednesday that certain businesses, such as barber shops, nail salons and pet groomers could open as soon as Friday, April 25th. Restaurant dining rooms, movie theatres, gyms and other businesses could open as soon as May 1st.

Asked whether he would be going out to eat if Stitt's proposed timeline is enacted, Monks was decisive: "No. Not for the foreseeable future."

Monks says any Oklahomans who decide to go out in public should wash hands diligently, wear face coverings, and keep an absolute minimum of six feet between themselves and others.

At the White House on Wednesday, President Trump expressed strong disapproval in Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's decision to open some businesses in his state and prohibit cities from issuing stricter restrictions than the state. "I think it's too soon," Trump said of Kemp's order, which shares much in common with Stitt's.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 123 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the state's total number of cases to 3,017. At least 179 people have died.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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