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Tulsa World editorial: Protect the people, Gov. Stitt! State's COVID-19 numbers are out of control and going the wrong way

Tulsa World editorial: Protect the people, Gov. Stitt! State's COVID-19 numbers are out of control and going the wrong way

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If you're confused about the latest comments of public leaders concerning what to do about the COVID-19 pandemic, it's forgivable.

Their policy plans are somewhat contradictory.

The White House coronavirus task force says the state should close bars and implement a statewide mask mandate.

Tulsa has a mask mandate, but Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart say they can't justify closing bars locally based on the evidence from contact tracing.

Bynum adds that the security of Tulsa's health care system depends on suburbs requiring masking in public places, but the suburbs seem to be standing pat.

The state health department and medical leaders  say masks are needed, but more than a third of school districts are opening without that requirement, which endangers children, teacher, parents and the community at large. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Kevin Stitt has taken no action on bars, masks or schools. He routinely reissued a standing order last week, which clarified absentee voting issues, but didn't do much else.

We have grown to trust Dart's judgment in these issues. He speaks carefully and on the basis of evidence.

If he says the evidence doesn't point to a need to close bars, we'll stand down on that issue for now, and expect him to sound the alarm when the time comes.

But Bynum's comments about the need for suburban mask mandates are also convincing.

We don't have a Tulsa health care system and a Broken Arrow health care system. We have one regional health care system. If portions of the region refuse to do the right thing, it endangers us all.

It's time for Stitt to act. 

If he won't sign off on the mask mandate President Donald Trump's coronavirus experts say is needed in the state, he should implement a tailored mandate that targets hot spots and particularly critical pieces of the puzzle, which includes all of metropolitan Tulsa.

All reliable sources agree: The state's COVID-19 numbers are out of control and going in the wrong direction. More than 250 Oklahomans died from the disease in August, up from 202 in July. Oklahoma has the eighth highest rate for positive coronavirus test results and the 12th highest number of new daily cases per capita. Both numbers are going the wrong way — up.

Do your job, Gov. Stitt. Protect the people of Oklahoma. 


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"Debates are not just about telling the voters where you stand," the editorial says. "They're also about contrasting your ideas and accomplishments with those of your opponent. They're about showing how well you think on your feet. They're about demonstrating that your attitude and personality are what Oklahomans want representing them in Washington.

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State Question 805 would stop judges from using previous nonviolent convictions as a justification for increasing prison sentences for people convicted of new nonviolent crimes. State Question 814 would redistribute money the state receives from an enormous 1998 multistate legal settlement with tobacco companies. 

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