Stitt orders non-essential businesses in 20 counties to close

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
03/24/2020 03:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Kevin Stitt
OKLAHOMA CITY – In a March 24 news conference, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he is issuing an order to close non-essential businesses in counties with positive COVID-19 cases, effective at midnight.

Stitt said businesses that have close contact with customers need to close for at least 21 days. “I don’t make these decisions lightly,” he said.

In a March 23 letter, 15 medical organizations, including the Oklahoma Hospital Association and Oklahoma State Medical Association, called on Stitt to issue an executive order implementing a shelter-in-place policy statewide.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, as of March 24, there were 106 COVID-19 cases in 19 counties with 25 people hospitalized. There had also been three coronavirus-related deaths in the state, the OSDH website states.

The website lists Canadian, Cleveland, Custer, Garvin, Grady, Jackson, Kay, Logan, Mayes, McClain, Muskogee, Noble, Oklahoma, Pawnee, Payne, Pontotoc, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington counties as those with COVID-19 cases.

However, on March 24, the Cherokee Nation confirmed a COVID-19 case in an Adair County man. The man, a CN citizen, is in his 40s and was self-quarantined, CN officials said.

At his news conference, Stitt said he believes the number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma to be closer to 500 and on its way to 1,000, though reports only just reached triple digits on March 24.

The governor said he is issuing a safer-at-home order until April 30 for people with compromised immune systems and the elderly. The order, effective at midnight on March 24, restricts gatherings of 10 or more people across the state.

“I’m not worried. I know Oklahomans are going to comply with that,” Stitt said.

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