Stitt issues new protocols to help limit the spread of COVID-19

Governor Kevin Stitt issued new protocols to help limit the spread of COVID-19 during a press conference on Monday.

Stitt also announced effective Thursday, all restaurants must ensure tables stay 6 feet apart or install “properly sanitized” dividers. Also starting Thursday, all bars and restaurants will close at 11 p.m., except curbside and drive through windows may operate past curfew. 

Beginning Tuesday, state employees must wear masks in common areas and while around others at work, and visitors to state buildings will be required to wear masks. The head of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, Jim Hopper, said the group supports the governor’s actions in Monday’s press conference.

Coronavirus cases continue to increase across the state and the country. 

Oklahoma reported 2,729 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Monday and 10 additional deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 156,857 and the death toll to 1,538 since the pandemic began in March, AP reports.

The true number of infections, though, is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Oklahoma has risen over the past two weeks from 1,053.57 new cases per day on Nov. 1 to 2,552.86 new cases per day on Nov. 15, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Over the last month, among the biggest concerns of state health officials is the steady increase in hospitalizations, which reached a near-record high of 1,249 on Sunday, according to the Oklahoma State Department COVID-19 dashboard.

“Oklahoma, I need your help, but more importantly our doctors, our nurses, our health care professionals in hospitals need your help,” Stitt said.

Stitt said the recent spike in COVID cases, especially hospitalizations, prompted him to issue these new restrictions in hopes of keeping businesses open and getting kids back into classrooms statewide after Christmas break. 

AP reports these restrictions are happening across the country in preparation of Thanksgiving.

In response OKC Mayor David Holt tweeted Monday afternoon,

Although Stitt has not issued a mask mandate for the state, cities across the metro have extended mask mandates through November. 

In states like New Mexico and Washington and cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago, leaders are ordering or imploring residents to stay home and keep their distance from others to help stem a rising tide of infections that threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system. 

Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee ordered gyms, bowling alleys, movie theaters, museums and zoos to shut down indoor operations. Stores must limit capacity to 25%, AP reports. 

People from different households will be barred in Washington from gathering indoors unless they have quarantined. There is no enforcement mechanism. Inslee told the AP he hopes people obey anyway.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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