Calls Grow for Statewide Shelter-in-Place Order

Mar 24, 2020

According to an online model, Oklahoma hospitals will be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients by mid-April unless severe measures are taken.

Medical associations, Democratic state representatives and thousands of citizens are pushing Gov. Kevin Stitt to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin said it must be done to curb the spread of COVID-19, a threat Oklahoma has yet to fully grasp.

"From everything we’ve seen, our situation is worse than what the official numbers are telling us because we haven’t had access to an adequate number of tests," Virgin said.

Oklahoma has 109 reported cases of COVID-19, but Stitt on Tuesday said he guessed the actual number was closer to 500 and the state would see thousands of cases during the pandemic.

While nonessential businesses in counties with reported cases of COVID-19 must close under an order from Stitt on Tuesday, the rest of the state won’t be affected. Virgin said without closures, people are not staying home.

"A lot of people in communities who haven’t issued any type of restrictions on businesses are reporting that it’s business as usual, and that’s unacceptable right now if we truly intend to stop this virus within our state," Virgin said.

Supporters of a shelter-in-place order have been pointing to an estimate that without stark intervention, Oklahoma hospitals will be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients by mid-April.

Roughly one in three Americans is currently under a shelter-in-place order.