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Stitt: House Panel Trying to Make 'Political Statement' Asking Why He Ignored Virus Recommendations

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is downplaying a letter from a U.S. House committee overseeing the nation’s coronavirus response that accuses him of worsening the state’s outbreak by not following private White House recommendations offered this week.

"I think it’s a subcommittee inside Congress that really is just trying to make a political statement either against the president or our state. I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from," Stitt said Thursday.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has Oklahoma in the red zone for new cases and positive tests, according to an unpublished report this week obtained by the New York Times.

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent letters to Stitt and the governors of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee asking why they are not complying with private recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force to rein in surges in infections. Those include limiting gatherings to 10 people, closing bars and requiring masks.

Stitt said the state has done fine since fully reopening June 1.

"We currently are on this plateau. We’re having between 700 to 1,100 cases per day. We’ve been on that range for the last three weeks," Stitt said.

Stitt said Oklahoma may be dealing with those sorts of numbers until a coronavirus vaccine is available. The state has seen days with 1,200 and 1,400 new cases within the past week.

Stitt said he is in near-constant contact with the White House and has received its recommendations but will continue to rely on local data. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has asked Stitt for documents related to its coronavirus plans and communications with the White House.

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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