OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, today called on Gov. Kevin Stitt to implement a system to better prepare Oklahoma for pandemics including COVID-19.
The Oklahoma Virus Awareness Program, similar to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Terrorism Advisory System, would use levels to make recommendations for actions based on data and not politics.
“Too many decisions during this pandemic have been made based on what is best for politics,” Leader Virgin said. “This system would help the process become a bit more transparent and more easily understood by relying on specific data thresholds instead of cherry-picked data that promotes one side’s political talking points.”
House Democrats did present an example chart of the program, however, the goal is for the actual thresholds and recommendations to be created by public health experts.
“What we have presented today is an example of how this system can work,” Virgin said. “We hope that it will be implemented, and we can start taking these proactive measures sooner rather than later.”
Level five (BLACK) - Hospital capacity is low, recommend citizens shelter in place.
Level four (RED) - High or rising level of transmission - recommend public spaces operate at 25 percent capacity. Ex: Restaurant dining rooms, gyms, event centers
Level three (ORANGE) - The virus is in general circulation - recommend social distancing, mask-wearing.
Level two (YELLOW)- Case number elevated, recommend social distancing
Level one (GREEN) - No threat.
Since the awareness program doesn’t mandate action, Governor Stitt can implement the program today, which would help protect Oklahomans and the Oklahoma economy.
“There are more people in the hospital today than there was 30 days ago,” Virgin said. “If we haven’t already, we are in danger of losing the benefits from our initial shutdown. By making decisions that are political and not based on specific data thresholds, we jeopardize our state’s economy and the health of citizens. This program could prevent unnecessary shutdowns and also help maintain gains from previous actions.”