Oklahoma National Guard officials are keeping tabs on COVID-19 developments but have not been deployed.
So far, about 16 service members from the Guard have been called to active duty from civilian life to assist at the Joint Operation Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma National Guard Lt. Col. Geoff Legler said.
Guard members have been making contact with state officials and agencies to lay the ground work in case there is a call for a large domestic guard response. Legler said the National Guard only acts as a supporting unit in domestic operations.
“We have the National Guard working on an emergency plan right now that if we run out of beds we can set up more hospital ICU beds,” Gov. Kevin Stitt told the Tulsa World on Friday afternoon.
Stitt said he has not called up the National Guard but would if needed to deliver supplies to areas that got critically low.
“That is when you do it,” Stitt said.
He said an information center has been set up on the grounds of the National Guard facilities.
“I am having them work on their emergency plans right now,” Stitt said.
He said the Oklahoma National Guard is working on a worst-case scenario plan should the state need to set up another hospital.
Those plans could involve using hotels, he said.
“There is no need to activate that at this point,” Stitt said.
Tulsa emergency management officials said they have been in contact with a liaison from the guard. The National Guard has not deployed at Tulsa’s Expo Square, officials said.
Tulsa District 2 County Commissioner Karen Keith said during a Thursday news conference that Expo Square officials have prepared the grounds to receive the National Guard should it become necessary.
Expo Square was used as a staging area during the area’s historic floods last May.
Gallery: What to know about the closures around Tulsa
Staff Writer Barbara Hoberock contributed to this story.