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'Little choice': Holt says OKC restrictions could return if case trend continues

Amid a spike in coronavirus cases, Mayor David Holt on Tuesday called on the public to exercise vigilance and warned of returning to stricter social restrictions if the trend isn’t reversed.

“If hospitalizations continue to rise at the rates seen over the last few days, or if deaths return to the rates seen previously, we will have little choice but to roll back to earlier phases of our re-opening,” Holt said.

In June, the metro has seen an average of 80 new cases a day, compared to the April peak of about 50 new cases a day.

Testing has declined while the percentage of people testing positive has grown, with those between the ages of 18 and 50 experiencing the biggest increase, Holt said.

Still, fewer people are dying.

From April 5 to April 11, there were 18 deaths in the metro, or three times the amount of deaths in the last four weeks.

During a live video conference, Holt said the metro area has seen an increase in hospitalizations, which could be a precursor to burdening the healthcare system.

Last Wednesday, 43 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, Holt said. The number reached 79 Tuesday. Those numbers are near an all-time high for the area, Holt said.

“We are now in a zone where we need to pay very close attention each day to what is happening with hospitalizations,” he said. “I’m here today to share these trends with you so that we may all be on notice.”

Holt urged residents to wear masks in public, maintain social distance, wash their hands and refrain from work if sick.

Dr. Patrick McGough, executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, also spoke at the conference, asking younger adults to be cautious, and careful around the elderly and vulnerable.

McGough warned the public about what experts say are “superspreaders” like faith-based activities, indoor physical activities, bars, weddings, funerals, and other small, private gatherings.

“No one’s trying to discourage these events,” he said. “What we simply want you to do is use the proper precautions as you participate in these events.”

McGough said wearing a mask in public isn’t about making a political statement.

“Wearing a mask is a statement that you value not just the lives of others, but that you value your own,” he said.

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Josh Dulaney

Josh Dulaney joined The Oklahoman in November 2016. Dulaney is a California Newspaper Publishers Association award winner for his writing. In both 2018 and 2019 he earned newspaper writer of the year honors from the Great Plains Journalism Awards. Read more ›

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