OKLAHOMA CITY — All non-essential businesses in 19 counties must close by the end of Wednesday, Oklahoma’s governor announced Tuesday.
The closures are part of a series of sweeping actions taken by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday to curtail the spread of COVID-19 as the number of cases and deaths continued to tick upward. As of Tuesday afternoon, 109 total cases and three deaths were confirmed.
Stitt also banned all gatherings of 10 or more statewide and ordered all elderly and vulnerable Oklahomans to stay home until April 30. He suspended all elective and non-emergent surgeries.
Stitt said he his 21-day business closure order impacts only the 19 counties with confirmed positive cases. But, he said the closure order would expand to any additional counties with confirmed cases in the coming days.
Stitt said modeling and prediction of the virus indicates the state is poised to have a spike of COVID-19 cases that outstrips the capacity of the health care system. He said the number of cases will quickly reach the thousands if the state takes no action.
He said his efforts are aimed at minimizing the spread and maximizing prevention efforts.
“If we take no measures at all, the cases will outpace the capacity of our health care system,” Stitt said. “We needed time to get testing down throughout the state to make sure we can isolate and quarantine and know where the outbreaks are.”
Businesses impacted by the closure order include, gyms, theaters, massage parlors, dine-in portions of restaurants, barber and tattoo shops.
Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at email@example.com.