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Stitt: Criticism of coronavirus response a ‘political statement'

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday dismissed as politically motivated a letter that says Oklahoma is not in compliance with federal recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Stitt was asked in a news conference about a letter from U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, that says the governor ignored recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Stitt said he was not very familiar with the congressional subcommittee that formed in April, but indicated he intends to respond to the letter.

“What you’re talking about, it's a subcommittee inside Congress that really is just trying to make a political statement against the president or our state,” he said. "I don't know exactly where it's coming from, but we've seen it. We're going to reply."

Clyburn's letter referenced a report prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force that says Oklahoma is in "the red zone for cases" due to a surge of new cases. The report also recommends stronger public health measures than called for by the White House to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Recommendations from the task force include mandating face masks, limiting the size of gatherings and closing bars and gyms.

Clyburn also requested a slew of documents pertaining to Oklahoma's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations Stitt's office received from the White House task force.

Stitt said he participates in weekly COVID-19 briefings with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other governors.

“We look at all the recommendations, and we make decisions based on the facts here in Oklahoma."

He previously responded to the letter stating, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has not identified any "red risk" counties in Oklahoma based on its four gating criteria.

Stitt has characterized Oklahoma as a leading state in handling COVID-19 while reopening the state's economy.

Clyburn sent similar letters to the governors of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

Thursday's news conference was the first time Stitt had addressed reporters since recovering from COVID-19. When asked why he wasn't wearing a face mask, Stitt said with a smile, "I've already had COVID."

Out of his two weeks in self-isolation, Stitt said he felt he was operating at 100% for the majority of the time and at about 90% for the two days he felt symptoms of the virus.

Related Photos
<strong>Gov. Kevin Stitt gives an update on COVID-19 at the Oklahoma state Capitol on July 9. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Gov. Kevin Stitt gives an update on COVID-19 at the Oklahoma state Capitol on July 9. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d90aea76f171d5741b1fe6f123d4db75.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Kevin Stitt gives an update on COVID-19 at the Oklahoma state Capitol on July 9. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" Gov. Kevin Stitt gives an update on COVID-19 at the Oklahoma state Capitol on July 9. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Gov. Kevin Stitt gives an update on COVID-19 at the Oklahoma state Capitol on July 9. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Carmen Forman

Carmen Forman covers the state Capitol and governor's office for The Oklahoman. A Norman native and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she previously covered state politics in Virginia and Arizona before returning to Oklahoma. Read more ›

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