It's unfortunate state leaders opted out when the White House Coronavirus Task Force decided to offer its weekly report only to those who request it.
The report provides a wealth of data about positivity and transmission rates related to the global pandemic. It also offers recommendations to help state officials navigate the public health crisis.
While data reported by the state sometimes conflicted with that reported by the White House task force, which contradicted President Donald Trump's public comments, most public health experts see value in the information. Gov. Kevin Stitt seemed more inclined to follow Trump's lead rather than the advice of experts assembled by the White House.
Stitt also concealed the reports he had been receiving since late June until the Center for Public Integrity began publishing the weekly assessments. The Oklahoma State Department of Health began posting the report on its coronavirus website after the governor's secret was exposed.
Past reports have been critical of the absence of state restrictions and its failure to implement precautionary measures. The White House task force noted in its Dec. 9 report that “unlike other states in the Heartland, cases and new hospital admissions (in Oklahoma) are not plateauing.”
The governor, however, has been at odds with the report. He rejected recommendations for measures such as statewide mask mandates even while state data confirmed the effectiveness of such measures.
Medical professionals said having more information available could help the state improve its response to the pandemic. Even conflicting information can be useful when dealing with a public health crisis.
We agree with the public health professional and medical experts. The governor's decision to bury his head in the sand and ignore, or try to conceal, reports from the White House Coronavirus Task Force will do nothing to remedy this crisis.