At a virtual news conference Tuesday, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt strongly made the case for hand-washing, distancing, and wearing masks but stopped short of requiring masks in public places.
However, he did end his part of the news conference warning that if COVID-19 cases continue to spike or deaths increase, “…we will have little choice but to roll back to earlier phases of our reopening.”
Holt and Dr. Patrick McGough, executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department both warned of the “Serious Seven” environments where people should be the most cautious and vigilant about distancing and wearing a mask.
Yet, there were no mandates issued.
In a series of charts, Holt pointed to success early in the COVID-19 pandemic where cityans stayed indoors, businesses closed and the general public took the situation seriously even with President Trump consistently downplaying the worse world pandemic in a generation.
But, then he showed that cases have spiked in the city in recent days but deaths have not increased and have started to slightly diminish.
“…new cases in the OKC metro have spiked in the last two weeks, and now are averaging around 80 new cases per day. At our first peak at the beginning of April we were only averaging around 50,” said Holt.
He offered condolences to families who have lost loved ones to the pandemic since March.
With that said, he pointed to the decreasing death rate over the last several weeks.
“…the toll on our city has changed dramatically in recent weeks,” said Holt. “The worst single week for deaths (April 5-11) saw three times more people die from COVID-19 than the last four weeks combined.”
Infection spike dangers
The mayor then cautioned young people between the ages of 18-50, the demographic with the most cases recently, to consider two things before becoming too casual about infections.
- “First of all, people between the ages of 18 and 50 do not live in some sort of bubble. They are the children and grandchildren of vulnerable people. They might be standing next to you at a wedding, they might be serving you a meal at a restaurant, they might be your mayor. And people between the ages of 18 and 50 are more likely than ever before to be carrying this virus in Oklahoma City and giving it to more vulnerable people.”
- “Second of all, what we are seeing in the case spike could be a precursor, because in the last week, though we have not yet seen an increase in deaths, we have seen an increase in hospitalizations.”
Holt did end his part of the news conference warning that it is very possible that if the situation continued to get worse he could roll back the opening to an earlier phase in order to reduce the infection rate.
“…if hospitalizations continue to rise at the rate 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 reopening,” said Holt.
He continued, “This is a critical week and we will be watching this data every day.”
He ended his remarks by saying that the coronavirus would be “stopped in its tracks” if people would “…keep our distance, wash our hands and wear our masks in public situations where social distancing is difficult.” He added that when people are sick, they need to stay home.
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