In separate Thursday press conferences, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum each challenged residents of their respective metropolitan areas to agree to 10 days of strict adherence to public health guidelines meant to slow the spread of COVID-19, stressing that hospitals are under severe strain and need citizens to change behaviors immediately to keep from even greater catastrophe.
"Cases are spiking right now across the country, but even in that relative environment, we're not faring well," Holt said.
"We don't have the staff to handle these surges. No community would. It's as if our health care workers are responding to the aftermath of a tornado, every day, week after week, month after month," Holt said.
"We know that we can bring these numbers down significantly if we just focus on it for 10 days," Holt said, asking offices to switch to fully remote work and not hold any in-person meetings if possible; citizens to avoid all social gatherings; pastors and faith leaders to reaffirm to congregations the importance of following public health best practices; and generally commit to a concerted effort to better follow health officials' recommendations.
A few hours later, in Tulsa, Bynum asked for the same.
"Let's get through the month of November and minimize the number of people that we come in contact with. As I said in the early goings of this pandemic, if you really think about it, it's largely a numbers game. The less people you come in contact with, the less likelihood you have of contracting or spreading this virus," Bynum said. "And in the early goings of this pandemic, this community halted the spread of that virus and saved the integrity of our health care system.
"Yeah, I put out executive orders to that effect. But this is not some sort of regime where I have an army at my disposal to go out and force people to do things they don't want to do. The only reason those things worked is because Tulsans understood how important it was and stayed home, and ordered takeout, and stayed away from folks unless you had to be around them.
"So I would ask for all of us: let's do that for 10 days. Let's see what kind of impact that could make for our health care workers who are trying and struggling to keep us all safe," Bynum said.
Back in Oklahoma City, Holt stressed that blowing off public health guidance isn't so much a risk to the person not following recommendations but to those around that person.
"You're not pushing your life or your health to the middle of the table when you make that bet. You're betting with my kids' education. You're betting with the health of a nurse," Holt said. "You're betting with the life of a 60-year-old grandmother who saved up her whole career so she could retire and enjoy her grandkids.
"When you lose your bet, we all pay the price."