Tulsa officials are once again asking for the help of Tulsa County residents and the leaders of neighboring municipalities in beating back a climbing wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, said at a press conference Tuesday that most county residents who have contracted COVID-19 lately are choosing to actively impede public health investigators by refusing to answer the questions of contact tracers.
"Sadly, the majority of individuals decline to provide contact information for close contacts or places they have been," Dart said. "This makes contact tracing exceedingly challenging and difficult to work to slow the spread of this disease."
"For everybody that lives in the Tulsa metro, let's be smart about this," said Mayor G.T. Bynum. "When the Tulsa Health Department asks you for your help if you've contracted this virus, and you can help them save lives by providing contact tracing information, please do that."
Bynum, as he has repeatedly in recent months, again lamented that neighboring municipalities have chosen not to implement mandatory mask ordinances like the city of Tulsa did in July. He said he is attempting to broker a meeting between hospital leaders and municipal elected leaders in the metro area.
"The vast majority of those that are being hospitalized in Tulsa right now with COVID-19 don't live in the city limits of Tulsa," Bynum said. "They are folks that live outside the city limits of Tulsa, over which the city council and I do not have the ability to impact or put in mitigation strategies that will help protect them."
Dart said the most concerning location for spread of the disease, he believes, are small, private gatherings. He recommended that they be limited to no more than 10 people. He described the current situation as "precarious."
"I've heard from so many health care providers and health care workers who keep asking why our messages aren't being listened to and why people aren't following recommendations to stay safe," Dart said.
"Our health care system is getting overwhelmed. They keep wanting to know why the public is playing Russian roulette with their health and with the health of the health care system," Dart said.