Jul 15, 2020

OK Governor Stitt and Officials COVID-19 Update July 15

OK Governor Stitt speaks about COVID-19 July 15
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsOK Governor Stitt and Officials COVID-19 Update July 15

Oklahoma Governor Stitt gave a COVID-19 update on July 15 along with other state officials. Stitt announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19, and encouraged people to get tested if they feel sick. Read the full transcript here.

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Commissioner Lance Frye: (00:01)
… Came up with the plan to push out PPE to hospitals when they had only three days supply left on hand and developed a Surge Plan and try to develop those supply chains and beef up our PPE supply and increase our testing capacity within the state and really had to work through this whole process. Our original modeling that was done by our state epidemiologist, we’ll try to share that right now. Show that by that first modeling prediction on July 21st, they were expecting around 30,000 deaths in the state of Oklahoma. At this time, I believe we’ve had 432 deaths. So you can see that model, we certainly helped decrease the number of deaths in the state of Oklahoma and active cases by all the things that we did with social distancing, safer-at-home and the temporary closing of non-essential businesses and et cetera.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (01:18)
Then we went into a, you can see where we are today. Sorry with this next slide, where we’ve had a total of 432 deaths. There were four new fatalities last night and a thousand new cases. Next slide.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (01:37)
Back in April, we were testing around 1,500 to 2,000 tests a day was our capacity. We had done a combined total number of tests of about 22,000 and then today we’ve done over 449,000, about 450,000 tests and we’re usually doing around eight to 9,000 tests a day. So we’ve greatly increased our in-state testing capacity and the amount of testing that we’re providing.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (02:08)
Overall when you look at today, the present time, you can see that what’s going in the United States, there’s obviously increasing numbers all around the United States and we’re watching the data very closely. Of course, it’s very concerning to us but you can see that we are one of the states that are performing better than the national average as far as percent positivity.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (02:35)
Currently on our PPE on hand, you can see that those are the current days on hand that we have in our stockpile and so we’re well beyond where we were in the original days, when we were trying to find one day of supplies for everyone.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (02:53)
We also developed our Surge Plan, which we still have in place. So that was where we had our healthcare system had around close to 5,000 beds. We asked everyone to plus up by 40% and everyone really came together and found places and develop plans and [inaudible 00:03:14] showed where they were pushing their beds, the capacity up 40%, and really in that crisis mode, emergency mode.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (03:25)
Then we had the safety net rings out that with the COVID flex sites, and then the potential sites for the Army Corps of Engineers to build those standup hospitals. We still have currently 240 plus an additional 95 that we can re-engage the contract on at any time. Those are extra additional, COVID hospital beds that are basically our insurance policy. We have those in place in case the hospital system reaches capacity and needs to use those facilities for COVID patients.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (04:04)
Currently, you can see that the age group that we’ve been talking about that 18 to 35 year old age group, has increased to be the major number one group as far as percentage of people that are infected with the virus in Oklahoma. The one that we’re really watching closely is that 65 and above age group. It has decreased from where it was to begin with at 28.93%. Currently it’s at 13.44, that the cumulative is at 12.7%. That’s the over the past 14 day rolling average. But we’re watching that very closely and we want to make sure that that’s not going to start to increase as well.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (04:47)
Next slide. That’s really all the slides that I have. We’ll go back and I’ll just talk a little bit about where we are.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (04:55)
So we went from our crisis mode to where now we’re in a risk management mode. We’re assessing the data daily. I’m talking to the hospital association and the hospital CEOs. They’re all assuring me that we have capacity still, that we’re doing well. Obviously the numbers are up there. We’ve had two days in a row where we’ve had about a thousand positives and that is always a concern but what’s more concerning is the hospitalizations and the deaths. We watched the percentage of positives to hospitalizations on a daily basis and actually that percentage has gone down. The percentage of hospitalizations to positives has actually gone down some over the last few weeks as our numbers are rising and that’s probably because of that large group, that 18 to 35 year old age group.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (05:56)
Really happy to take over any questions when we’re done with this, but I just want everybody to kind of see our current situation, where we went from our crisis to risk management mode and how we’re basically assessing, working through this and right now, the hospitals are really doing a good job. They’re wanting to really take the lion’s share of this and as far as the management of this goes and make sure that they’re able to transfer patients when they need to and we’ve got the COVID hospital beds waiting for them if they need them. But so far, at least in the Metro region, they haven’t had to have it engaged into that very much. In Tulsa, they had to use them some but we’re still good here in Oklahoma City, as far as the total number of those beds.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (06:51)
I’d like to turn it over to the governor now for his update.

Governor Stitt: (07:04)
Can you hear me okay now?

Speaker 1: (07:08)
We got ya.

Governor Stitt: (07:09)
You got me. Okay. Thanks so much, commissioner. I appreciate your update and going from crisis to risk management and the update on where we’re at.

Governor Stitt: (07:20)
I just want to take a minute to remind Oklahomans, COVID-19 is still in the United States. We know that. It’s still in Oklahoma. We need to take this virus very seriously. We need to come together and make sure each one of us is doing the best we can to slow the spread.

Governor Stitt: (07:39)
I talk all the time about the new normal because we know it’s here in Oklahoma. It’s not going away so we have to adjust our behaviors. We have to be aware of our surroundings. Wash our hands. We have to continue to get tested. So I’m just really proud of our Health Care authority, the Department of Health, all the different hospitals, how we’ve…

Governor Stitt: (08:03)
… the department of health, all the different hospitals, how we’ve ramped up our testing. So, I personally get tested periodically throughout this whole thing. And I got tested yesterday for COVID-19 and the results came back positive. So, I feel fine. I felt a little bit achy yesterday. I didn’t have a fever, but just a little bit achy. So, just did my regular testing and it came back positive. So, just want to be transparent with Oklahomans. From the very beginning, I want to share every piece of data and then let Oklahomans know exactly where we’re at in our state. And I’m so proud of how we’ve handled it this far. I’ll be taking precautions. I’m now isolating away from my family. I’ll be working from home until it’s safe for me to get back to normal. So, I’ll be doing a lot more Zoom calls. Commissioner Frye, and I have worked with contact tracers based on when my symptoms developed. I would not have been contagious since before Saturday. I didn’t have the traditional symptoms of COVID. And that’s kind of interesting for us to think about. That’s why I just want to encourage Oklahomans to continue to get tested. So, I want to use my story to remind Oklahomans that, if you aren’t feeling well, we want you to get tested.

Governor Stitt: (09:28)
So, I’m going to keep working from home, isolating myself. And again, I feel fine really. I mean, you might say I’m asymptomatic or just a slightly kind of a little bit achy, but really feel fine. And I’ll turn it back over to Commissioner Frye. And then, we’ll take a few questions

Commissioner Lance Frye: (09:48)
When you’re talking about our hospital system and the increase in positives, I know that’s on everybody’s mind. We talk about it all day long, every day. We did some modeling and, as you know, modeling is not exact. You saw the original models that were projected from the state. And we really changed that model by all the actions that we put into place. So, we did some modeling.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (10:18)
And it said, at our current hospital, with our 5,000 beds, we’d have to have a 100,000 cases in 14 days in order to reach capacity. So, from where we are now, we’d have to have 7,200 cases each day for 14 days before we’re going to reach capacity with our hospital system. And that’s based off of rate of hospitalizations, discharges, length of stay, et cetera. So, if anyone has any questions at this time, we’re happy to answer them.

Charlie: (10:51)
Hey, guys, we’ll open your lives accordingly, so there’s only one of you at the time. Barbara Hoberock, Tulsa World, go ahead.

Barbara Hoberock: (11:03)
What time of day did you get your test results back?

Governor Stitt: (11:08)
I got my results back at around 12, 12:30 yesterday.

Barbara Hoberock: (11:16)
Thank you.

Charlie: (11:16)
Ken Miller, Associated Press.

Ken Miller: (11:19)
Thank you, governor. I know you said there was contact tracing going on now to try to determine when you were infected. Any thought that it may have occurred during the president’s rally in Tulsa, which was almost a month ago now, I realize. But, as I recall, you did not wear a mask at that rally.

Governor Stitt: (11:41)
Yeah. And I’ll let Commissioner Frye answer this. But I don’t think there was any way it was at the president’s rally. It’s too long ago for it to be dormant, based on the science. But, Commissioner Frye, can you address that?

Commissioner Lance Frye: (11:55)
Sure. Yeah. That’s too long ago. It wasn’t wasn’t that. And we based our contact tracing starting 48 hours prior to him developing any symptoms. So, and prior to that, as far as where he became infected, is really unknown. It could be at any time within the last couple of weeks. But it wasn’t so far back as the rallies.

Charlie: (12:26)
Kassie McClung, Frontier. Gotcha.

Kassie McClung: (12:30)
Ken actually just asked my question. Thank you.

Charlie: (12:35)
All right. I’ll just go down the line. KOCO, Dillon, do you have anything?

Dillon: (12:40)
Governor, you had a meeting yesterday with the commissioners of the land office. I think that was in the morning. I guess you tested positive after that. So, A, are the folks who are at that meeting going to have to quarantine? And why didn’t you wear a mask for that entire meeting? Thank you.

Governor Stitt: (12:56)
Commissioner can address whether they’ll go quarantine. I called Lieutenant Governor Pinnell and Secretary Blayne Arthur. Didn’t really talk to anybody else in that meeting. Those two were probably six feet away from me. But the commissioner might be able to address whether those two or anybody else will have to quarantine.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (13:17)
Yes. So, I’m happy to talk on that. We use the standard contact tracing protocol and the protocols for someone that we would think would be at high risk based off the contact. And that’s anybody that would be closer than six feet away for 15 minutes or more. So, we’re in the process of talking to people, contacting them and seeing who would fit into that category.

Charlie: (13:45)
Tres Savage.

Tres Savage: (13:49)
Thank you, Charlie. Thank you, governor. Wish you well and speedy recovery. Just a quick question. I imagine I know the answer to this. But have you canceled your plans to attend this weekends Grand Lake Association festivities? I know there’s a bunch going on up there this weekend.

Governor Stitt: (14:07)
Yes. I will not be attending that. And pretty much you’ll be meet me over Zoom. I’ll be working this way for the next couple of weeks or until Commissioner Frye says I’m good to get back out.

Tres Savage: (14:20)
Is it interesting that the state owned power company is so heavily involved in having a big weekend of festivities that coincide with political fundraising and whatnot? Does that interest you?

Governor Stitt: (14:34)
Well, actually, I didn’t even know that was on my schedule. I don’t even know if it was on my schedule, actually. So, don’t know exactly what’s planned on the Grand Lake area, but obviously Grand Lake is open. We’ve got tons of boating happening. We’ve been 88 days into our safe reopening now. And, again, Oklahoma, we are moving forward in a very cautious manner. And the statistics are… we have it in Oklahoma. And so, I’m just sharing with Oklahomans now, we have to be cautious. We have to kind of change or adjust to the new normal. But it’s here. And we’re going to have to just kind of continue to work through how we’re going to deal with this.

Charlie: (15:23)
Let’s go Erica from News 9, and then Angelica Brown from Fox 25, you’ll be next.

Erica Rankin: (15:27)
Hey, governor. I’m glad that you are feeling well, but question for you. What would you tell Oklahomans who see these numbers rising every day? They’re wondering why things may not be rolled back. What’s your message to them?

Governor Stitt: (15:44)
Yeah. So, we’ve signed probably 30 different executive orders to flatten the curve. So, that was the whole goal. We were in crisis mode in mid March. You got to remember that. And we built the capacity. Our hospitals did a great job of getting that up. But I don’t know if you caught what Commissioner Frye said. We-

Governor Stitt: (16:03)
But I don’t know if you caught what Commissioner Frye said. We would have to have about a hundred thousand or 7,200 positives per day over a 14 day period before we would start approaching hospital capacity. So that’s plenty of runway for us to look and watch and make adjustments as we need to going forward. But the point of the matter is, as soon as you go back to phase one, two or three, you will have a little bit of a spike. I think Oklahomans are doing a fantastic job and that bears out. I don’t know if you saw the first graph, one of the graphs of the map of the United States that the commissioner showed, but Oklahoma is less than the national average and all the States around us are maybe double or above the national average.

Governor Stitt: (16:49)
So we still have some great facts. Do we have coronavirus in Oklahoma? Absolutely. But going back and bunkering in place doesn’t remove it either. It just continues to flatten the curve. And once you do start opening back up, you will see some more positive cases. So when you slow things back down, all you’re doing is delaying and flatten the curve. If we’ve already flattened the curve to build capacity, that was our whole goal. And so at this point, it’s way, way premature to think about slowing down or backing up a phase because we flattened the curve. A thousand cases right now, even if we stay there, which we’ve had to over the last 14 days. I think we’ve had about 9,000 cases over the last 14 days. But even if we had a thousand for the next 14 days, that would only make our hospitalization somewhere around seven or 800.

Governor Stitt: (17:47)
And so we’re in really good shape right now. Again, I want to caution Oklahomans. We have to adjust. This is the new normal, maintain our surroundings and social distancing. If you feel or kind of achy like I was, go ahead and get tested. Make sure you don’t visit people that are in the vulnerable population. And remember, look at the data that we are very transparent in showing. Under the age of 50 has been about 75% of our new cases and the death rate there is like 0.05%. So we’ve got some good data, but it’s obviously here.

Charlie: (18:29)
Angelica, go ahead.

Angelica Brown: (18:31)
So I know we’ve talked about this a lot, Governor, but in light of your diagnosis, are you considering or are you thinking about a mass mandate now?

Governor Stitt: (18:43)
Not thinking about a mass mandate at all. Across the state of Oklahoma, you’ve got different communities with different needs and that’s why we rolled out the color coding, so we could give Oklahomans all the transparent data to see are they in a heightened risk? Are they yellow or orange in their counties? And so, again, to me, we want to give businesses the freedom. I know that some businesses are mandating masks and that’s great, but you can’t pick and choose what freedoms you’re going to give people. So if the businesses want to do it, if some local municipalities want to do it, that’s fine. But again, we also respect people’s rights to stay home if they want, to run their businesses or to not wear a mask. And so the other thing that’s problematic that people don’t talk about is how do you enforce it?

Governor Stitt: (19:39)
Are we going to put people in jail? What if the mask falls underneath somebody’s nose? What if it was not the mask that you expected them to wear? They needed an N95 and they didn’t have an N95. So you just open up a big can of worms. This is a personal responsibility. This is something that we’re going to be transparent. I’m going to continue to tell Oklahomans if you feel safer, wear a mask. And a lot of businesses are requiring it. That’s fine. And obviously, I’m just hesitant to mandate something that I think is problematic to enforce.

Charlie: (20:17)
Go Carmen Forman from The Oklahoman and then Jay Soren from K4, he’ll be on deck.

Carmen Forman: (20:22)
Hey, Governor. Glad to hear you’re feeling okay. Hope Sarah and the kids are doing all right. I am curious. I believe you’re the first governor in the country to test positive for COVID-19. And I’m curious if there’s anything you’re going to do over the next days or weeks that you’re feeling symptoms to help inform other governors of what this is like and help open their eyes to COVID-19 a little more.

Governor Stitt: (20:49)
Thanks, Carmen. I think that I’m probably getting tons of texts right now from other governors around the country. And yeah, I was pretty shocked that I was the first governor to get it. Obviously, Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the U.K. got it. So there’s been politicians that have got it. A couple of U.S. senators, but I think I am the first governor. So yeah, I’ll let them know that it just kind of feels achy like maybe the start of a little cold is what it feels like right now, but really I feel fine. All the kids, we tested Sarah and all the kids and they were all negative and I’ve been obviously around them quite a bit. And so they’re all negative, which is good. But that’s the thing about this. One of my kids could have given it to me and now they tested negative.

Governor Stitt: (21:42)
And so now I’ve got it. So you just never know where it is. It’s a virus that’s in the United States. It’s an Oklahoma and that’s why it’s the new normal. And we have to continue to adjust just our behavior a bit until there is a cure, a vaccine, because this could be, and I keep saying it, this is something that could be with us for the next 24 months. And I don’t think Americans and Oklahomans particularly want to bunker in place for the next 24 months. We hope and pray that we get a vaccine and we get some better treatments for it. And the good news is the death rate is really coming down fast because we’re protecting the most vulnerable. We’re protecting the nursing homes. We’re limiting visitation. We’re doing all the things to protect that most vulnerable population. And we’re not seeing it affect people without co-morbidities or people under the age of 65. And so those are always good stats.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (22:42)
Governor, I-

Charlie: (22:43)
Chase, go. Chase, go ahead. Oh, sorry, Commissioner. Do you need to add to that?

Commissioner Lance Frye: (22:45)
Well, I do want to add to that question about messaging to other governors. I’d just like to add that the governor did the right thing here. As soon as he felt any symptom at all, he got a test. And as soon as he got the results back, he immediately quarantined himself and had started contact tracing and got his family tested. And we’re working through the process of all the people that he was in contact with so that we can do those things with them as well.

Charlie: (23:17)
All right. Janelle Stecklein, go ahead. We’ll wrap it up with you.

Chase Horn: (23:21)
Hey Charlie, can I get one in real quick still?

Charlie: (23:24)
Yeah. Oh, sorry, Chase. Yeah. We jumped you. Go ahead, man. [crosstalk 00:23:26] Chase and then Janelle.

Chase Horn: (23:28)
Governor, I know you said you’re hesitant still to put a mask mandate on the entire state and you said you don’t know where you contracted the virus. And we’ve seen you start wearing a mask in recent appearances, but does this testing positive make you think and question all those times you did go out and didn’t wear a mask out in public and around people?

Governor Stitt: (23:49)
You know, obviously, if I knew I contracted it from not wearing a mask from somebody, then absolutely. But no, I don’t really second guess anything. Obviously, I’m walking around outside. I’m at a baseball game for my kid.

Governor Stitt: (24:03)
Obviously I’m walking around outside, I’m at a baseball game for my kids. I took my kids… I gassed up at a gas station and could have touched the gas pump. I mean, you start second-guessing, wondering all those different things and how you could have gotten it. So it’s out there; it’s a virus, and we have to continue to be cautious, but I don’t really second-guess anything. Again, it feels a little bit just like an achy cold, but I’m basically asymptomatic, and obviously, knock on wood, everything’s fine here with this.

Tres Savage: (24:40)
All right, Janelle Stecklein and then Paul Monies, please.

Janelle Stecklein: (24:46)
A lot of Oklahomoans are reporting it’s taking seven to 10 days to get their COVID test results back. How did you get yours back so quickly, and also your family get their negative ones back so quickly?

Governor Stitt: (24:56)
Commissioner, do you want to speak to that?

Commissioner Lance Frye: (24:58)
Sure, I can speak to that. It depends on where they’re getting their tests done and what lab is used. And I’m well aware that there’s an issue with that; we’re talking about that on a daily basis. But when it gets to the lab, you should be able to get it back within 24 to 48 hours. So that’s why most people are saying 24 to 72, because it takes time… Depending on when the courier picks up for the lab, you may miss the last run for the day, etc. But there are still some places that are using labs that are sending out-of-state for processing, and those take longer, and then sometimes there’s just an error in contacting those people. The lab may be done and finished, but the people aren’t being called in a timely manner.

Commissioner Lance Frye: (25:47)
That’s something we’re aware of; we’re working through that. We don’t have control over all the labs. OU, OSU, and the public health lab are all working together as one state unit, at this point in time, but all the other labs, we don’t really have much control over. There are rapid tests that you can get in certain places, that you can get a test result back in 15 minutes; those are not as accurate as some of the other ones, so we usually want to do a confirmatory after one of those, if it’s positive, to make sure. Yeah, it varies depending on which lab is used and what type of lab is run.

Tres Savage: (26:31)
Paul Monies, go ahead.

Paul Monies: (26:33)
Hi, Governor. Sorry you tested positive. [inaudible 00:00:26:37].

Governor Stitt: (26:47)
I can’t hear you, Paul.

Paul Monies: (27:05)
[inaudible 00:26:54].

Tres Savage: (27:05)
Having a little trouble hearing you, Paul.

Paul Monies: (27:05)
[inaudible 00:03:07].

Tres Savage: (27:06)
Tell you what; we’ll wrap it up for now, Paul. If you want to just send me that, we’ll try and get that answered for you this afternoon. Thank you all for being here. [inaudible 00:00:27:14], we’re recording this; we’ll get that out to you on Dropbox or WeTransfer, whatever is easiest for you, this afternoon. Thanks, everybody.

Speaker 2: (27:22)
So what you just saw there was a press conference via Zoom from Governor Kevin Stitt and the Interim Commissioner of Health, Dr. Lance Fry. Quick recap for you: Governor Kevin Stitt says that he has tested positive for COVID-19, so the Governor of Oklahoma is now officially the first governor, according to him, in the United States to test positive for COVID-19. He says he feels pretty much fine, just like a pretty bad cold. Says that he’s mostly asymptomatic, just a slight fever and kind of achy. Still says that he will not scale back reopening plans and will not issue a mask mandate at this time. He’s going to be working from home for the time being, and he is still unclear as to where he might have contracted that.

Speaker 2: (27:59)
Some other statistics real quick for you, just to recap if you’re just joining us, from Interim Commissioner of Health, Dr. Lance Fry. He says that Oklahoma’s doing a fantastic job so far of handling this pandemic. Whenever they thought they would have 30,000 deaths, it’s more like 400 deaths. There are 450,000 tests so far for COVID-19; they’re testing about 8,000 to 9,000 people every day. They say the state is performing better than the national average; they showed some maps backing up that theory, there. They’ve increased hospital beds by 40%; that’s about 50,000 hospital beds. We’re not near capacity or where they had expected we would be. They said there are still plenty of hospital beds and we’re nowhere near capacity. And they keep stressing the fact that the demographic that they’re really concerned about right now is that 18 to 35 year old demographic, which is currently the number one demographic for the most number of cases. They’re still keeping an eye on that 65 and older demographic, obviously the most vulnerable population, but definitely saying that Oklahoma is handling the pandemic very well. Of course, this comes after two days of nearly 1,000 daily case numbers that we’re seeing.

Speaker 2: (29:09)
But once again, Governor Kevin Stitt testing positive for COVID-19 and still not rolling back any reopening plans, and no mask mandate issued for the entire state of Oklahoma. Of course, each city is handling that in their different way. We know that we’re going to find out later on today from the City of Tulsa, the City Council here in Tulsa is going to approve [inaudible 00:29:31] ordinance mandating masks in the City of Tulsa. That’s coming up later today, so make sure that you stay with us at 5:00 P.M., 6:00 P.M., and 10:00 P.M. as we continue our coverage of that. We’ll get back to your regularly scheduled programming.