Governor Kevin Stitt addressed concerns of a statewide lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19 during a news conference Sunday afternoon. Stitt reiterated that Oklahoma would not forcibly shut down businesses like bars or restaurants.
"At this time we're following Centers for Disease Control guidelines and that is to stop groups of 10 or more people, and that is what I'm going to preach," Stitt said. "The question is, when you shut something down, when does it come back? This could go on for a while. This could be our new normal, and we've got to think about how we deliver services."
Stitt said churches and businesses had been "innovative" in their approach to contactless, curbside, online or delivery services in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
"There may be a time when we have to do other things," Stitt said. "...The churches and businesses are doing that on their own and being very responsible."
Oklahoma Secretary of Health Jerome Loughridge urged Oklahomans to continue practicing social distancing, remaining indoors when possible and keeping trips outside limited to necessities.
"Our call is for that of personal responsibility," Loughridge said. "We continue to encourage Oklahomans to exercise social distancing alongside personal hygiene. If we're not being safe, no one is. If you must go out, be mindful and aware of your risk and your role in stopping spread of the disease."
Stitt also announced the development of a statewide task force to address the spread of COVID-19.
The "Governor’s Solution Task Force" is "a multiagency group of experts and support personnel to enhance Oklahoma’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic," states a release from Stitt's office.
The Governor’s Solution Task Force will be led on an executive level by Secretary of Agency Accountability and Chief Operating Officer John Budd, Chief of Staff Michael Junk and Secretary of State and Education Michael Rogers.
Loughridge, Interim State Epidemiologist Dr. Aaron Wendelboe and Brigadier General Tommy Mancino, Assistant Adjutant General of the Oklahoma National Guard, will lead a forward planning team to "proactively coordinate potential needs," states the press release.
“The members of the Oklahoma National Guard are ready to bring their military training, equipment and experience to help their fellow Oklahomans in planning and coordination of the response effort,” said Major General Michael Thompson, the Adjutant General of the Oklahoma National Guard. “We are able to provide efficient logistical support to help deliver supplies and assist our health care workers as needed.”
“This group will allow our state’s leaders to focus their efforts on the areas they know best,” said Gov. Stitt. “Their expertise will help us form a comprehensive response to COVID-19 and allow the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management to have additional support and resources.”