Oklahoma’s safety requires statewide “stay-at-home” order

Gov. Stitt on Wednesday extended his executive order to close non-essential businesses to all 77 counties through April 30. However, that’s not enough. To slow the virus’s spread and give our health systems the resources to respond, Gov. Stitt should issue a statewide stay-at-home order. 

Oklahoma, along with Michigan and Georgia, have been identified as emerging hotspots where outbreaks are intensifying and per capita testing rates are some of the lowest in the nation. There are already signals of rapidly expanding outbreaks in some parts of the state, as the number of confirmed infections has more than doubled during the past five days. 

This weekend, Tulsa and Oklahoma City joined 43 of the nation’s largest cities in issuing “stay-at-home” orders, restricting residents’ movement to essential errands and occupations. Following Norman’s stay-at-home order earlier last week, more than 1 in 4 Oklahomans are now staying home except when absolutely necessary. 

At present, Gov. Stitt’s executive order closes non-essential businesses in all 77 counties, and only “high-risk” persons are asked to stay at home. Gov. Stitt has acknowledged that Oklahoma’s number of COVID — and by extension, their locations —  are almost certainly underreported because there aren’t enough tests available. Without adequate testing, many medical officials are concerned the virus will spread. This can be especially troubling to our rural areas, which are already underserved by doctors and hospitals. Without a statewide stay-at-home order, the virus will continue to spread, putting more people at risk. 

The previous patchwork approach and its apparently narrow application created widespread confusion, something the mayors of Tulsa and Oklahoma City both cited when they issued stay-at-home orders this weekend. With the Governor currently asking only elderly and other high-risk Oklahomans to stay at home, it’s not clear to whom the order applies. This leaves it up to the individual to decide for themselves. Among other issues, this might force workers to disclose a medical condition to explain to their boss why they can’t come into work. In addition, given Oklahoma’s sky-high uninsured rate, Oklahomans themselves may be understandably unsure if they have health conditions that could make them high-risk, such as asthma or diabetes. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, 34 states have issued statewide stay-at-home or nearly identical shelter-in-place orders. Oklahoma should join them, as the state’s health care providers have urged. As many epidemiologists have noted over the last few weeks, “flattening the curve” assumes that a substantial number of people will contract COVID-19. These medical experts say the best chance at keeping our health system from being overwhelmed is for us to avoid getting sick all at once. This also maximizes access to health care for sick Oklahomans. A statewide stay-at-home order recognizes the gravity of the situation, and it gives Oklahomans and local businesses the power to limit their exposure, keeping all of us safer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in January 2014. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern. A Kansas City native, Carly graduated from the University of Tulsa in December 2013 with a BA in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. She is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification Program, the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking program, and The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa. She previously served as board president for United Campus Ministry at the University of Tulsa. At OK Policy, Carly supervises policy staff and conducts research focusing on health care and the safety net.

14 thoughts on “Oklahoma’s safety requires statewide “stay-at-home” order

  1. Too bad Oklahoma has a Governor who is unable to think for himself especially since the President is unable to take care of the country as a whole.

  2. Oklahoma State Constitution

    SECTION II-7
    Due process of law.
    No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

    Denying an individual freedom of movement is a deprivation of liberty, which under the Oklahoma Constitution, is prohibited.

    1. Infected persons who move around in their freedom are depriving others of life by spreading the virus and not staying home. Shall we hold a due process of law on courtroom with the 6 foot distance rule while we discuss and argue about temporary loss of freedom we can take to save the greater good, people’s precious lives. If we die how then will anyone enjoy life, liberty or freedom? Why delay the inevitable—put the stay home order in place.

  3. Where is the due process for the innocent person who may become infected just so you can do whatever you wish.
    “The common good and general welfare” should be of greater concern to all of us in this country!
    Pat from IL where thank God, we have a forward thinking governor!

  4. COMMON SENSE TELLS US THAT WE SHOULD DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID 19 !
    STAY AT HOME !!

  5. Your governor clearly doesn’t care if the entire state’s population comes down with COVID19. It’s not “freedom” for you to directly risk the well-being and lives of total strangers just so you can do whatever you please in public.

  6. There is a liqueur store that is opened here, is that not a non-essential business? There does need to be a statewide stay at home order for all, not just a few.

  7. You are incorrect. A core duty and primary function of any government is protection of the public’s health and safety. Field epidemiology—

    including investigation of disease outbreaks and clusters—is a critical, basic government function conducted by public health agencies at the

    state and federal levels. The federal government’s authority to protect public health and safety is found in the US Constitution. And while

    states address the protection of public health and safety in their individual constitutions, each state is also vested with “police powers,” that is,

    inherent authority to impose restrictions on private rights for the sake of public welfare, order, and security. Both federal and state authorities

    are subject to the limitations and restraints of the US Constitution. These legal authorities enable public health officials to take certain actions

    during epidemiologic investigations, such as obtaining clinical specimens and data from persons affected by an outbreak; obtaining data from

    healthcare facilities; collecting environmental samples; protecting the privacy of personal information; and implementing and enforcing control

    measures, such as vaccination, chemoprophylaxis, quarantine, or even seizure or destruction of private property.

  8. Our Government Officials are supposed to lead and guide with example, which in Oklahoma is a joke!!! It’s almost like the officials here dont care whether our state has an epidemic or not! Its a roll of the dice! What about the Walmart, Target. Grocery. Gas station attendants????? People who are supposed to stay at home are congregating at their local Walmart because they are bored. What the heck, do Walmart QT. REASORS COSCO etc employees not have the same rights as all others???? Stay at HOME!!!!!! SEND ONE PERSON OUT TO GET WHAT YOU NEED AND HAVE A LIST GET YOUR ITEMS AND GET OUT!!!!!! COVER YOUR MOUTHS, STAY 6-9 FT AWAY FROM EMPLOYEES AND OTHERS AND LETS ALL TRY TO SURVIVE THIS MONSTER VIRUS!!!!!

  9. Our Governor needs to act soon in order to save Oklahoma from this plague. Staying completely home for two weeks would save so many lives!

  10. I hope Governor Stitt stays strong and resists a statewide “stay at home” order. He’s right, those types of orders are unsustainable and unenforceable. Certainly not needed in less dense areas of the state with few cases. Our hospitals are almost empty, laying off people and closing locations due to lack of business. There simply is no need for a statewide stay at home order.

  11. It’s not the Government denying us our freedoms, it’s the virus that is denying us our freedoms. We must all step up to this challenge to restore our freedoms and any hope of future prosperity. Think of this as a national security issue. The enemy is in our homes and businesses now, and a stay-at-home order is a draft of sorts. We are all being recruited to fight the virus and the fight is simple, stay home. Unless that very act is a detriment to said health and safety, meaning essential workers and supply runs only. Remember, viruses don’t care about your rights…because they are viruses. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, just remember that if we let this virus rampage through our country and kill hundreds of thousands of us. We will be showing every enemy of America exactly how to beat us. The next terrorist attack could come from a vial instead of a plane.

  12. Our gov wants the attention it would bring him if we had a explosion of cases and deaths. Plain and simple

  13. I want to encourage Gov. Stitt to open up our business by May 1. We should all take precautions as they do in China. They wear mask all the time on airplanes. I don’t want to see a depression in Oklahoma. We have to be mindful of our young families, they very seldom get the virus. Older people are the ones that can control the virus and we should stay home as much as possible. I am 79 years old and I think I had the virus and so does my Doctor. I get upper respiratory infections and Pneumonia very easy. The 2nd of March I was exposed to the flu. I called my Dr. and got Tamiflu. I was really sick by March 9 and went to the Dr for upper respiratory infection. He gave me an antibiotic, I kept getting worse with a horrible diarrhea, at that time they were not telling people that was one of the problems. I had a cough like I do often, but my high powered cough medicine worked. I take Singular and Fexofenadine Antihistamine daily. I take several vitamins daily also. A few days I really didn’t know what I was doing. On March 13, the Doctor sent out a much stronger antibiotic. I don’t know how much it helped, because it took me until April 7, to feel half way decent. I went to the Doctor that day, but he didn’t have any of the antibiotics test. I am not going to take any chances and go out until I can be tested. Prayers for all of you.

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