5 minute read

Saying “It’s time to get real,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt issued an emergency proclamation Thursday that will make the governor’s executive orders restricting interactions in bars and restaurants enforceable by the Oklahoma City Police Department within city limits.

Those restrictions, issued by Governor Kevin Stitt, are as follows:

  • Starting Thursday, Nov. 19, all restaurants will be required to space tables at least six feet apart, unless tables, booths and bar areas are separated by sanitized dividers.
  • Starting Thursday, Nov. 19, all bars and restaurants will be required to close by 11 p.m. No in-person service of food or alcohol will be allowed after 11 p.m. except for restaurant drive-thru windows or curbside pickup.

Holt said that although it’s preferable for those establishments to comply and most will, officers will have the authority to ticket those restaurants and bars for violating the governor’s mandates.

That was the extent of the actual legal teeth of the mayor’s new response to the pandemic that is nearing crisis levels, threatening to overwhelm hospitals across the state.

Oklahoma City’s mask mandate remains in effect. But other some other cities within the metro do not have such a mandate.

Moral leadership

But, he also did what he seems to do best, which is to exert moral leadership.

“Hoping isn’t working,” said Holt. “It’s time to get real.”

He said that some people misinterpret what is meant by “personal responsibility.” It’s not that you have the option to bet that you won’t get it or that if you do it won’t be all that bad.

Instead, argued Holt, personal responsibility means understanding that “when you lose your bet, we all pay the price.”

Holt asked city residents to give extraordinary effort over the next ten days to slow the growth of the coronavirus in OKC and in surrounding areas.

“You know how fast we got into this current wave? About ten days. In just ten days, we went from around 300 cases per day to around 800 cases per day,” Holt said.

He used the analogy of rowing where the term “power 10” means to give the next ten strokes maximum effort. And, then he asked cityans to put out their best efforts over the next ten days to slow the spread of the disease.

In Tulsa and Oklahoma City in past weeks it has not been unusual for ICUs to reach capacity or near it.

Holt asked that residents avoid the large family gatherings that are so common during the Thanksgiving season.

He also asked residents over the next ten days to avoid any kind of meal that involves anyone beyond your immediate household.

“I’m asking anyone in a position of influence in this city to elevate these messages of vigilance for the next ten days.”

Holt urged pastors and media to amplify the message for people to take the next ten days isolating as much as possible.

Numbers

Holt used some key numbers and a chart to illustrate the urgency of the current pandemic situation.

“Around November 1, our seven-day average of new cases in the OKC metro was approximately 300 new cases per day, said Holt. “As we stand here today, November 19, the seven-day average of new cases in the OKC metro is over 800 new cases per day.”

Here is the illustration he used to show the dramatic rise of infections in the metro.

Holt compared the numbers in much larger, more densely-populated cities than OKC to our numbers.

He said that in the past ten days, one out of 100 residents of the OKC metro has tested positive for COVID-19.

“You have to assume that any room you have entered this month in Oklahoma City that had more than 25 people in it almost surely had someone who was actively infected with COVID-19. The virus is everywhere,” said Holt.

City-County Health

Dr. Patrick McGough, executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department backed up what Holt said about the necessity to take the disease seriously.

He cited the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report about Oklahoma that said Oklahoma’s spread of the disease is “exponential and unyielding.”

He said that 50% of COVID transmissions come from people who don’t know they have the disease.

“Trust me,” said McGough. “Not seeing your family for Thanksgiving one year is better than seeing that chair empty the next year.”

Compliance

Holt said that the city would rely on complaints to respond to situations where Governor Stitt’s executive orders are not being followed.

And, when it comes to some who stubbornly refuse to comply, Holt bluntly said that polling shows 70% of residents support mask mandates.

He referred to those who oppose masks and precautions as a “loud minority.”

“”We don’t really need them to get these numbers down,” argued Holt. “We need the people in the middle.”


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Correction: An earlier version of this report said that the mayor did not issue a mask mandate. But, one was already in effect. We regret the error.