Like Michael Scott starting a sentence, sometimes it looks like Governor Stitt starts a policy and doesn’t even know where it’s going. Back in April, Stitt and his government implemented the “Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) Plan,” which was supposed to look like this:
However, if his plan actually matched up with the state’s actions, the four intentions would really be:
- Based on presidential modeling and ignoring public health experts.
- Intended to ignore the fact of resurgence.
- Intended to sacrifice Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens for the benefit of the economy.
- Intended for the Governor to use to pretend like he’s actually doing his job.
The plan implemented a phased system of reopening the state for commerce and gatherings. Being that we are officially six months into the OURS Plan, we thought it would be a great idea to look back and reflect on how the state faired in each of the three phases. Let’s start with Phase 1…
Phase 1 of the OURS Plan: April 24th to May 15th
As of April 24th, Oklahoma had 3,121 cases of COVID-19 with a 7-day rolling average of 76.4 new cases per day. In phase 1, personal care facilities, such as spas and salons, as well as entertainment venues, including restaurants, theaters, and gyms, were allowed to reopen. Churches were also allowed to open at this time. Social distancing, shelter-in-place for vulnerable Oklahomans, and masks were all encouraged, but nothing was ever mandated by the Governor’s office. At this point, In the 3 weeks of phase 1, cases of COVID-19 rose by nearly 2,000 and we lost 91 Oklahomans to the virus. But if it was safe enough for Mrs. Stitt to visit Target with no mask and shoes that were way too small, the curve was flat enough to continue with phase 2.
Phase 2 of the OURS Plan: May 15th to June 1st
As of May 15th, Oklahoma had 5,086 cases of COVID-19 with a rolling average of 87.1 new cases per day. In this phase, bars reopened with proper social distancing standards and large gatherings such as sporting events and weddings, were allowed to take place. Again, social distancing, shelter-in-place for vulnerable Oklahomans, and masks were all encouraged, but nothing was ever mandated by the Governor’s office. During this time, COVID-19 cases rose by only 1,487 cases. In Stitt’s defense, the curve was looking pretty flat at this time, though it wasn’t necessarily decreasing. Which makes no damn sense as to why we moved on to phase 3.
Phase 3 of the OURS Plan: June 1st and Beyond
As of June 1st, Oklahoma had 6,573 cases of COVID-19, with a rolling average of 75.3 new cases per day. In this final phase, businesses were able to resume the day-to-day grind with unrestricted staffing protocols. Within 30 days of phase 3 opening up, cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma more than doubled to 14,112 cases and the rolling average increased to 490.1 new cases per day. You would think at this point the Governor would decide to roll back on reopening, like he seemed to insinuate the state was prepared to do. But I guess Stitt had to make sure the state was open enough to host President Trump’s campaign rally.
As of Saturday, Oklahoma has had 136,258 cases with a rolling daily average of now over 2,000. Our hospitals are overflowing and last month we had exactly zero ICU beds available in the metro at one point. Oklahoma is currently 4th in the nation for COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 people and we lost over 300 Oklahoma lives to COVID-19 last month alone. The OURS Plan stated that before moving to a new phase or to keep from rolling back, hospitalizations will be at a manageable level. At this point, the OURS Plan seems to keep hospitalizations manageable by allowing Oklahomans to die.
Refusing to implement any statewide mask or shelter-in-place mandates has not only led to the White House Coronavirus Task Force to call us out multiple times, but also, I don’t know, might have contributed to the loss of over 1,200 Oklahomans who have died from the virus since phase 1 of reopening. For a guy who encourages Oklahomans to take “personal responsibility” for stopping the spread of COVID-19, Stitt hasn’t taken much personal responsibility as governor to implement any worthwhile response to the pandemic.