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Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Doctors, nurses, hospitals, dentists say Stitt efforts fall short

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Oklahoma’s doctors, dentists, nurses, hospitals and other health care providers said Gov. Kevin Stitt should have gone further on Tuesday to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

A state coalition of medical groups, which urged Stitt in a letter to issue a “shelter-in-place” order for the state, said the governor’s actions regarding vulnerable populations and non-essential businesses were positive steps but that “more can and must be done to protect the health of all Oklahomans.”

Stitt ordered restrictions on non-essential businesses in all counties that have confirmed COVID-19 cases. He also said the elderly and people with certain underlying health issues should stay at home statewide. And he directed that non-emergency surgeries and dental procedures be canceled.

Stitt’s actions came as the Oklahoma Health Department reported a third death — a former nursing home resident in Norman — and a jump in COVID-19 cases to from 81 to 106. Acknowledging the lack of testing in the state, Stitt said there were probably more than 500 cases now. And there may be thousands to come, he said at a news conference.

In its letter, the medical coalition told Stitt, “While we applaud the hard work and efforts your administration has taken thus far, experience from the rest of the country and globally show that these measures are not enough. More aggressive, proactive efforts are necessary if we are to stop the spread of this disease and prevent unnecessary death.

“We urgently request that you issue an executive order that will implement a shelter-in-place policy and close non-essential businesses until this pandemic is truly contained … A shelter-in-place policy is what has proven to be the most effective method globally of combating the spread of COVID-19.”

About a dozen states have issued such orders. New Mexico's governor issued one on Tuesday.

The mayor of Norman was expected to issue one for that city.

The medical groups told Stitt that he had to get ahead of the curve to flatten the curve of rising cases. They said “history will be much more kind to those who did too much than those who did too little. The time for wait-and-see is over. The time for bold leadership is now.”

Here is a list of the groups signing the letter:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — Oklahoma Chapter

Digestive Disease Specialists, Inc.

LeadingAge Oklahoma

McBride Clinic

Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians

Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology

Oklahoma Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists

Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists

Oklahoma Association of Nurse Practitioners

Oklahoma Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics

Oklahoma Chapter-American College of Surgeons

Oklahoma Dental Association

Oklahoma Dental Hygienists’ Association

Oklahoma Hospital Association

Oklahoma Nurses Association

Oklahoma Psychiatric Physicians Association

Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists

Oklahoma State Medical Association

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Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›

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