State Unveils Color-Coded Risk System
As confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt reaffirmed his opposition to a mandatory mask order. As of Friday, July 10, a total of 19,092 cases of the disease have been confirmed in the state. The number of confirmed cases has jumped by 2,730 since Monday, July 6. Washita County cases have jumped to eight.
In a Thursday press conference, Stitt reiterated his opposition to a mandatory mask order.
"As your governor, I'm going to protect our freedoms as Oklahomans, but I need your help in this," he said. "Take the personal responsibility to protect yourselves, your families, and our most vulnerable."
He urged Oklahomans to "consider wearing a mask," in situations where social distancing is not possible.
Stitt unveiled the state's new color-coded risk assessment system, which assigns a risk level and corresponding color (green, yellow, orange, or red) to each of the state's 77 counties.The risk level is determined by the number of daily new cases per 100,000 people. It is calculated on a rolling seven-day average.
Green represents counties that are in the so-called "new normal." Green counties are those experiencing less than 1.43 new daily cases per 100,000 people. Yellow, or "low-risk", counties fall between 1.43 and 14.39 new daily cases per 100,000 people. Orange counties, those averaging more than 14.39 daily new cases per 100,000 people, are categorized as "moderate risk." Only four counties are currently considered moderate risk: McCurtain, McClain, Ottowa, and Tulsa. Washita County, along with most other Oklahoma counties, is rated moderate risk, or yellow.
Although the system includes a "high risk" red category, the information provided by the state doesn't specify at what point a county is considered high risk or red. No Oklahoma counties were assessed at that level as of this week.
Despite the rapidly increasing numbers, Stitt touted the state's reopening. He said the majority of new cases are in the age 50 and younger demographic, a group with a much lower mortality rate from the disease. Both he and state health commissioner Lance Frye expressed that the increase in cases was to be expected by increasing social and economic activity in the state, but that the state has ample hospital beds and resources available to handle the influx of new cases.
"This is going to be our new normal for the foreseeable future," Stitt said.