US House COVID Panel Wants to Know Why Stitt is Not Complying with White House Recommendations

Jul 29, 2020

Credit The Oklahoman

A U.S. House special committee wants to know why Oklahoma is not following recommendations on the coronavirus made privately by the White House.

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis says according to a private report this week made public by the New York Times, the White House now has Oklahoma in its "red zone" for new cases and positive test results, meaning the state has more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents and more than 10% of tests coming back positive.

A previous version of the report had Oklahoma in the red zone only for its new case rate.

In light of that, the White House Coronavirus Task Force is recommending stronger actions than what it’s called for in public. Those include limiting gatherings to 10 people, closing bars and gyms, capping restaurants' indoor dining at 25% capacity, and implementing a mask requirement. Select committee Chair Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) accuses Gov. Kevin Stitt of "prolonging and exacerbating the public health crisis facing the state" by not complying with the recommendations.

Clyburn is requesting documents on Oklahoma’s coronavirus response and communications with the White House by Aug. 12.

In a statement, Stitt said the Oklahoma State Department of Health used the White House’s initial methodology to develop its own COVID Alert System, which has not identified a high-risk county. Counties cannot be considered high risk under Oklahoma's system until at least one of four statewide criteria on hospital capacity or preparedness is met.

"This is the right approach, and the state will continue to deploy transparent data, tracing and testing support, PPE, and additional resources to inform and mitigate areas of concern. We must work together as one state to protect our health and our economy," Stitt said in a statement. "Wash your hands frequently, watch your distance by staying 6 feet apart from others and wear a mask when distancing is difficult."