Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce announced Saturday that the City of Stillwater will be following Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman in issuing orders for residents to shelter in place that will probably take effect Tuesday morning.
The details regarding enforcement and application are under development and will be discussed at length when the City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.
"We've been talking about it for a few days," Joyce said. "What does it really mean? Who are we going to stop? And we're still trying to figure that out."
The order is basically designed to put teeth in the measures already adopted by the City of Stillwater and communicate the severity of the situation.
"It basically gives us an enforceable order for people to stay home unless they have an essential reason to be out of their house," he said. "... It's a more stringent way of saying what we've already been saying."
More limitations on public access to city facilities, like city hall, will also probably be adopted. Playgrounds, tennis courts and basketball courts in city parks will probably be closed and have signs posted.
All businesses that are currently deemed essential and allowed to be open will remain so, Joyce told the News Press. Police won't be stopping people who are riding their bikes or jogging and people won't need documentation or permits to move around town.
But Joyce said he hopes people will stop and think about whether going to a home and garden store to buy flowers is really essential.
"Police won't be out there stopping every car on the road," Joyce said. "...(But) So many people are out cruising around because they're bored, and I get it."
People don't seem to be taking the precautions seriously enough, he said.
The jump in confirmed cases in Payne County and the rising number of COVID-19 related deaths in Oklahoma makes it important for cities to adopt consistent restrictions, Joyce said. That's why Stillwater is looking at what others are doing.
Other nearby counties also have high numbers of confirmed cases, creating concern about protecting the local medical system's capacity to provide care, he said. Stillwater Medical Center and its affiliated clinics treat patients from across this region.
"I'm not looking at New York, I'm looking at Stillwater Medical Center," Joyce said.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Saturday that Payne County's number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose from five the previous day to 12. Neighboring counties, Pawnee, Kay and Creek had 14, 18 and 16 confirmed cases, respectively. Counts for other adjoining counties remained in the single digits on Saturday.
The total number for the state was 377 spread over 40 of Oklahoma's 77 counties.
Rapidly increasing numbers are to be expected as testing become more available, state and local officials have said. At this point, the Oklahoma State Department of Health now considers all cases to be community-transmitted.
"The success of these efforts depends on each of us choosing to put the welfare of the community ahead of our own desires," Joyce wrote."I can't force you to do that, but as Oklahomans we take great pride in our ability to pull together and overcome whatever obstacle we face."
The Stillwater City Council's meeting will be streamed on the City of Stillwater's YouTube channel and will be televised on Suddenlink channel 14 and AT&T U-verse channel 99.
Joyce will be presiding over the meeting from the City Council's meeting chamber at City Hall, 723 S. Lewis. Other councilors will join via the Zoom video-conferencing app.
Residents who would like to address the council during the meeting should sign up to speak at stillwater.org.