Bynum Expands Ban on Gatherings as Stitt Takes Action

Mar 24, 2020

Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum on Tuesday expanded his executive order banning gatherings of 10 or more people in Tulsa.

It previously applied only to city facilities.

"Moving forward, there are to be no groups in any facilities or elsewhere in Tulsa of 10 or more people, and that will be enforced by the Tulsa police department," Bynum said.

The order applies to all social and work gatherings. Bynum said people can still visit parks and outdoor spaces that are open, but they cannot gather in large groups and should stay six feet away from others to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While Bynum has been discussing a shelter-in-place order with health officials, for now, Tulsa residents are being asked to stay home except for essential trips, like to buy groceries.

Under new orders from Gov. Kevin Stitt, nonessential businesses in counties with cases of COVID-19 are shutting down for 21 days, and gatherings of 10 or more people are banned across the state. Federal officials have discussed practicing social distancing for 15 days, with President Trump indicating he'd like to end those guidlines sooner.

Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart said it’s important to act on what’s happening, not on deadlines.

"It’s good to have a timeframe, but it’s also good to review and monitor and be very careful about what the data’s telling us to assure that time frame’s and reflective of what we’re seeing in the environment. And we’ll find out, 15, 21 [days], two months from now, we’ll know," Dart said.

Dart said the health department will be taking samples from a limited number of prescreened, uninsured people tomorrow at an undisclosed location and sending them off to the state lab for testing. The Tulsa Health Department has added an epidemiologist to help with COVID-19 work, but Dart said the ongoing shortage of testing supplies are hampering public health efforts.