Gov. Kevin Stitt said Wednesday he and his COVID-19 response task force are working on plans to reopen Oklahoma.
That will start with Stitt lifting a ban on elective surgeries and other minor medical procedures on April 24. Stitt said the state has a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers and others that may be exposed to the coronavirus, and hospitals are struggling with the dip in patients.
"Hospitals have had to furlough workers in some cases, and I’ve heard of nurses, single moms, who have lost their jobs because the demand is so low," Stitt said.
Stitt said the state is "not out of the woods," but his task force is also working on guidelines for reopening restaurants and nonessential businesses.
Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation Kayse Shrum said the state won’t be flying blind, and reopening won’t happen in days.
"We will begin expanding our surveillance and tracking capabilities. We ask that Oklahomans be patient and continue to be diligent in your social distancing, practice good hand hygiene and wear masks when you’re in public places as recommended by the CDC," Shrum said.
Stitt encouraged Oklahomans to keep up social distancing and other preventive measures for now. He is extending his "safer at home" order telling the elderly and people with serious medical conditions to stay home through May 6.