The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Sunday that three more patients had tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19, in Payne, Cleveland and Tulsa counties, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Oklahoma to eight.

While the state health department did not reveal personal details or exact locations of the people who had tested positive for the virus, the Payne County Health Department issued a statement around 4 p.m. that said it is working with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to identify people who had contact with the confirmed case in Payne County.

The department said it will be providing guidance for those people who have been in close contact regarding testing and isolation requirements.

Stillwater Medical Center and Oklahoma State University both issued statements early Sunday that said the confirmed case was not associated with them.

Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce said he had also been assured the case was not connected with either institution.

In response to the announcement of a confirmed case within Payne County, the City of Stillwater issued an emergency declaration Sunday evening that closes many City-owned facilities, cancels events and meetings, and highly encourages local restaurants, bars and businesses to impose strict social distancing measures beginning at midnight Monday and continuing until April 5.

The state of emergency will be extended if needed.

The declaration allows the City of Stillwater access to state and federal resources and takes aggressive action to increase social distancing in Stillwater, Joyce said in a Facebook post.

“These are drastic measures – disruptive to our local businesses and our lives,” Joyce tweeted. “I do not take these steps lightly; they are necessary to protect the health and welfare of our community. I urge you to do all you can to limit personal interaction to stem the spread of this virus.”

The Stillwater Public Library and Stillwater Community Center will be closed and Stillwater Parks and Recreation and Stillwater Area Sports Association events, facilities, leagues and events will be postponed or canceled, at least through April 5.

The City had already announced the previous week that its Senior Activity Center would be closed until further notice.

Lakeside Municipal Golf Course, Lake McMurtry and other will remain open for individual access but all gatherings and meeting, both public and private, are canceled and no permits will be issued for gatherings at those locations until the emergency declaration expires.

No permits will be issued for events on city streets, sidewalks, facilities or other property and any permits already issued will be canceled.

The Stillwater City Council, Stillwater Utilities Authority and the Stillwater Medical Center Authority will meet as usual and those meetings remain open to the public, although steps will be taken to maintain social distancing for in-person attendees. Council and SUA meetings will remain televised. Any meeting cancellations will be posted at stillwater.org/agenda.

City officials strongly encouraged the public to cancel all gatherings.

They encouraged restaurants, bars and other public facilities and businesses to limit the number of patrons allowed inside and pursue take-out or delivery options.

Gyms and fitness facilities were encouraged to discontinue group activities and classes.

The City of Cushing also announced on Sunday that it would be closing its public library, youth center and senior citizens center through April 1 in response to the threat of coronavirus. Project Heart meal service at the Cushing Senior Citizens Center has been suspended but the City of Cushing is working with Project Heart to find another way to get meals to seniors.

Cushing Municipal Court will be closed through April 7 and access to the city's Public Safety Center will be limited so people who have business with the police or fire departments are encouraged to call ahead. 

People who have business with the City of Cushing are also encouraged to call ahead. The city is waiving service charges for online utility payments. 

Don Amon, Chairman of the Cushing Board of Commissioners, said in a statement, "While no one likes to limit services or alter our daily lifestyles, the City recognizes the importance of following the CDC's guidelines. We all would like to limit the dangers of this pandemic. By taking these measures, hopefully, we can lessen the spread of the disease and keep our vulnerable citizens safe."

The City of Perkins announced it would be closing the Perkins Public Library and postponing municipal court operations until further notice. It asked that anyone who has business to conduct at city offices call ahead because access to city facilities will be limited. 

"These precautions are being taken to ensure core services for Perkins residents are not interrupted," city officials said in the announcement.

They said they would be closely monitoring the situation they described as "rapidly evolving" and vowed to re-open city buildings and resume normal operations as soon as they can safely do so. 

“The spread of COVID-19 is a serious public health emergency and we must be aggressive in our efforts to protect the lives of our community members,” Joyce said in a City of Stillwater statement. “We are in close contact with all public health authorities and our local partners. We will continue to be vigilant and responsive as the situation evolves.”

The State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions and concerns. The toll free number is (877) 215-8336.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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