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The City of Oklahoma City will stay the course with current shelter in place rules until May 1 when it will adopt the same rules as the state.

Adding to that announcement Friday, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt warned residents not to treat any relaxing of social distancing as a license to “run out in the street and hug each other on May 1st.”

“May 1 is not a light switch,” said Holt. “Instead, it’s more like a dimmer.”

He urged patience among the population and spoke of his ongoing effort to persuade residents of the City to be judicious in their contact with each other.

“This will be a long journey,” Holt said about the process of opening up the economy in stages as treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 are still a year or longer away.

He warned that the City would stand ready to respond if the Oklahoma City-County Health Department sees any hotspots forming in the metro.

Until then, the City of Oklahoma City as well as Tulsa and other cities will still be under the current shelter in place rules that are more strict than the recovery plan the State of Oklahoma has had.

Testing and rates

As in previous weekly news conferences Oklahoma City – County Health Department Executive Director Dr. Patrick McGough gave perspectives on the process of evaluating numbers in the county and state and developing a testing regimen that would produce a much more broad perspective on the course of the disease in the county population.

He announced that one of the Walmart stores on the south side had agreed to be a testing site adding to the expansion of sites in the metro.

“We can be optimistic but we must be cautious,” said McGough about the seeming flattening of numbers of cases across the state. Still there are new cases every day including Friday.

McGough said that at the City-County Health Department on 2700 N.E. 63 Street in Oklahoma City they have increased their testing processes so that over 200 tests are conducted on the site daily.

External factor

“We cannot deny that there are external criteria,” he said.

Holt cited the Governor going ahead with opening plans as an “external factor” to the City’s move to harmonize rules with the state.

“There is no perfect path forward,” said Holt Friday. “We are trying to do the least worst.”

Holt cited the “practical considerations” of any city that would try to continue to maintain standards that were more strict than those of the surrounding state.

“Two realities”

The mayor cited “two realities” that drove his decision to join the state standards for recovery of the population and the economy.

First, Holt said that COVID-19 has “no vaccine or proven treatment and the fundamentals of the crisis would not change until a proven treatment is developed.

Second, the mayor pointed to the reality that “we can’t shelter in place for two years straight” and so we would have to learn how to protect each other the best we can as we carefully move back out into life together only in much safer ways than before.

State plan

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced in a news conference Wednesday that the state would gradually open sectors of the economy that had been closed in an effort to control the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Friday was the first day of the gradual reopening leading to a more comprehensive opening by May 1.

The Governor’s plan is called “Open up and recover safely (OURS) plan.”

Phase one of OURS began Friday with limited reopening of certain personal care businesses.

Hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons, and pet groomers were allowed to open Friday under strict guidelines about sanitation and personal protective equipment (PPE). However, across the state owners of those establishments expressed concern about being given only few days notice.

Eventually, after May 1 in the state plan, a number of other businesses may open still under sanitation and protection guidelines.


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