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Local & Regional

Bynum Sends Message To Stitt On National TV: 'We Need Action'

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Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum took his frustration with Gov. Kevin Stitt's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic to national television Thursday, saying the state isn't providing Tulsa with the help it needs to effectively handle the coronavirus.

In a Thursday appearance on MSNBC, Bynum told host Chuck Todd that Oklahoma "absolutely" needs a statewide mask mandate, citing Tulsa's maxed-out or near-capacity ICUs and the fact that the majority of COVID-19 patients in city hospitals are from outside the city of Tulsa.

"We need help," Bynum said. "We've reached the point where us doing this alone as a city government, which we've tried to do our best throughout this pandemic, we've reached a point where, you know, we can't control the spread of this virus anymore when we're getting about 68% of our hospital patients from outside the city limits where we don't govern."

"The argument has been made, well, we really want to encourage people, and support 'personal responsibility,'" Bynum said. "My response to that is: Every law we have would be fine if people were personally responsible, but at this point, we've reached a point where we need action."

"It is incredibly frustrating to hear our hospitals and our doctors tell us repeatedly what we need and not get it" from the governor, Bynum said.

Bynum repeated a story he told at a Tuesday press conference at Tulsa City Hall, of a COVID-positive municipal employee who was unable to be admitted to a hospital even with a 106-degree fever, saying hospitals are being "really restrictive" with who receives care.

"You have to be basically in danger of respiratory failure before you're going to get in a hospital with COVID," Bynum said.

On Tuesday, Bynum said he had expressed these sentiments in a phone call to the governor's office, and was asked by a reporter what he was told in response.

"They're 'continuing to evaluate the situation,'" Bynum said. "I don't want to speak for them. They can speak for themselves."

The governor's office did not respond to a request for comment.

At a Tuesday press conference in Oklahoma City, Stitt, who has previously vowed he would not so much as consider a statewide mask order, again dismissed the idea, saying he will continue to plead with Oklahomans to "do the right thing" on mask-wearing without government intervention.

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