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White House Recommends Oklahoma Increase COVID Mitigation Efforts Or Risk 'Increased Fatalities'

White House coronavirus task force

One week after the release of a White House coronavirus task force report stating that many of Oklahoma's recent COVID-19 deaths were preventable, which provoked a response from a spokesperson for Gov. Kevin Stitt disputing that as an "editorial opinion," a new report recommends the state ramp up its coronavirus response or risk further deaths.

"We have included cases, test positivity, and deaths by month in the back of your packet to show the time sequence in Oklahoma and the country as a whole," Vice President Mike Pence's task force writes in a Sunday report to the governor, released publicly by the Oklahoma State Health Department on Wednesday. "These demonstrate the impact of comprehensive mitigation efforts when implemented effectively and that partial or incomplete mitigation leads to prolonged community spread and increased fatalities."

"Community spread continues in Oklahoma in both rural and urban areas. Mitigation efforts should increase to include mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and avoiding crowds in public and social gatherings in private to stop the increasing spread among residents of Oklahoma," the report continues.

The report lists Oklahoma as being the 9th worst state in the nation in terms of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous week, with 190. The national average over the same timeframe was 100.

In test positivity, the White House says Oklahoma is the 8th worst state, with a rate of 10.0% over the previous week, compared to the national average of 5.8%

The state sits in the middle of the national rankings for most deaths per 100,000 residents over the last week, ranking 24th with a rate of 1.2. The national average was 1.5.

The report says 61 of Oklahoma's 77 counties have moderate to high levels of community transmission of the disease. Tulsa County and the Tulsa metropolitan area both remain in the red zone for counties and localities, respectively. 

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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