Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt called today for residents to undertake a 10-day push to curb the spread of COVID-19. He also painted a grim picture of the current infection and hospitalization rates in the metro area.
Holt said Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent measure ordering restaurants and bars to stop serving items for on-site consumption by 11 p.m. would be enforced by city police. He asked anyone who sees a business operating past that time to contact law enforcement.
Hold also called for residents to limit the size of Thanksgiving gatherings to a few people, and to skip holiday gatherings altogether if possible.
“Hope isn’t working,” Holt said. “It’s time to get real.”
Numbers continue to climb
The COVID-19 situation in the Oklahoma City metro area continues to look increasingly grim. Holt said the average number of daily cases is right now 16 times higher than it was when the pandemic began.
There are currently 484 people in Oklahoma City hospitals because of COVID-19. Of those, 136 are in intensive care.
Even more disturbing, in the past three weeks one in every 100 Oklahoma City residents has contracted the virus.
Holt compared Oklahoma City’s numbers to those in Los Angeles, a city with a vastly greater population than OKC. Currently, 11 out of every 100,000 people in Los Angeles are hospitalized with the virus. In OKC, that number is 35 out of every 100,000.
Over all, the OKC metro has averaged about 800 new cases per day over the past few weeks.
“For the next 10 days, let’s all commit to taking a break from higher risk activities,” Holt said. These activities include dining indoors, house parties, and other gatherings
He also reiterated the need for people to wear masks in public.
“In public health our No. 1 priority right now is to get individuals to wear a mask,” he said. “Masks work when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus.”
Both Holt and Oklahoma City County Health Department director Patrick McGough urged people to think about either dramatically scaling down their Thanksgiving plans or skipping them altogether.
The holiday is promising to be the next big containment challenge for public officials and health care workers as the United States heads into the holiday week.
The Trump administration, already rebuked by voters in the Nov. 3 election for its largely inert response to the pandemic, has been encouraging Americans to go through with their holiday plans as usual.
Locally, the message is different.
“Consider whether the plan is worth spending two or three weeks in the hospital,” McGough said. “Consider whether that plan is worth unknowingly giving the virus to your grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, who could potentially lose their life before the end of the year if exposed to the virus. Trust me, not seeing your family for one Thanksgiving is far better than having that chair empty next year, and every year after.”
Some residents not onboard
About 800 people watched the press conference on Facebook Live. While most who commented were in favor of the 10-day push to curb the virus spread, many were not.
As Holt was speaking, some commenters on the Facebook feed were crying out about personal freedom and their intent to do the opposite of what the Mayor and health officials ask.
“Isolate and defeat people’s rights sounds like communism to me,” one person said.
Another said they would go through with their holiday plans anyway.
“Gonna have a traditional Thanksgiving. Not thanks for your liberal agenda and fear tactics,” the poster wrote.
As of Nov. 19, there have been more than 11.6 million Americans who have contracted the virus this year, and 251,445 have died as a result.