Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 he announced in a news conference today.
He is believed to be the first governor in the U.S. to test positive.
The announcement comes on the same day that the Oklahoma Department of Health reports the state’s new infections since Tuesday was 1,075, setting yet a new record for single-day increases for infections.
It is also the first single-day increase to break the 1,000 mark.
Health Department news continued to show a dreadful outlook for the state. Wednesday’s report showed four more deaths since Tuesday bringing a total of 432 Oklahomans who have died from the virus.
Hospitalizations increased at the end of the day Tuesday to 561, up 15 from Monday which is only one short of matching the high on March 31 as the virus started to rage across the state cited Kassie McClung of The Frontier.
“I feel fine”
Governor Stitt said “I feel fine,” and did not appear to be in distress as he participated in the Zoom news conference conducted by Colonel Lance T. Frye, M.D., commissioner of health for Oklahoma.
Stitt participated in the news conference from his home where he is isolating himself from the rest of his family. The governor said his children and wife have tested for COVID-19 and their tests have been negative.
But, Stitt continued to argue in the same news conference that it is “way, way too early” to think about “bunkering in” again as back in the winter.
Reveals economic differences
Stitt did say in the same news conference that he would be “working from home until it is safe to get back to normal.”
To use his own term, he will be “bunkering in.” The statement and reality of Oklahoma’s Governor having a large staff and being able to afford the technology to run the state from his bedroom revealed the vast differences in the effects of the lethal virus on different economic strata of the state.
Workers at the Seaboard meatpacking plant in Guymon have been forced to continue to work in crowded plant conditions as the virus continues to spread. Over 400 meat-packing workers out of 1,600 had tested positive by late in May.
And, workers from Oklahoma’s Hispanic and Black cultures continue to get hit hardest proportionally because they are heavily represented in Oklahoma’s essential businesses that are high-exposure environments.
As well, those cultures tend to have multiple generations living in the same households because of traditions of caring for elderly family members and economics.
Although Stitt did demonstrate wearing a mask in a news conference recently, that is the only environment where this reporter has observed him to ever wear a mask.
He has made numerous public appearances such as meeting with Elon Musk and attending the sparsely attended Trump rally in Tulsa a month ago all without a mask.
The latest appearance without a mask was in a meeting meeting of the Commissioners of the Land Office the day before on Tuesday.