Leaked document classifies Oklahoma “red zones”, recommends more measures

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 08/23/2020, 3:09 PM
Edited: 03/11/2021, 10:22 AM
(TULSA, Okla.) A White House Coronavirus Task Force document classifying Oklahoma a COVID-19 “Red Zone” is now public after being leaked and published by the Center for Public Integrity. The organization said it is choosing to make these weekly documents, which they said are issued to state governors about the pandemic, public for citizens so key county-level data and federal advice is no longer “out of sight”. The document can be accessed in full here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/7041272-Oklahoma-8-16-20.html?fbclid=IwAR0m7lF091HwNtvqBiGf6LsvdKcg_h1rsOM3BNeVbZQmJKXbLrI4CijFAfw The task force’s recommendations include “Mask mandate needs to be implemented statewide to decrease community transmission, bars must be closed, and indoor dining must be restricted in yellow and red zone counties and metro areas.” Six metropolitan areas are listed as being in the “red zone”, including Tulsa. 18 counties are listed as being in the red zone. Additional text recommends state social gatherings of more than 10 people should be banned in the red zones and people should not eat at indoor restaurants in the red zones. The report is from August 16, one day before White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Birx met with Governor Kevin Stitt and other officials in Tulsa. “There are a lot of levers we can pull, but at this point we are in really good shape," Stitt said in a press release after the meeting. "We have to be very cautious as kids are going back to school. That’s why Oklahomans need to continue to social distance, and wear masks when they cannot maintain their distance so we can keep up this positive trend that we’re on right now.” The Red Zone report was not mentioned, nor was the task force’s recommendations shared with the rest of the state. Find the governor’s full press release from Birx’s visit here: https://www.governor.ok.gov/articles/press_releases/stitt-state-and-local-leaders-meet-with-dr-birx In contrast to the task force’s classifications, the Oklahoma State Department of Health still categories all of the state’s counties in Moderate-Risk (Orange) phase or lower. OSDH’s alert system requires more thresholds be met in addition to increased COVID-19 cases for “red zone” status, like reduced ICU capacity and decreased amounts of PPE. You can find more information about Oklahoma’s COVID-19 Alert System here: https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/covid-19-alert-system


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