Following the fourth record-setting increase in positive COVID-19 cases in two weeks, Gov. Kevin Stitt addressed the rise in cases and urged Oklahomans to wear a face mask after putting on a face mask.
“As expected, as we reopened our positive cases have been increasing,” Stitt said. “Just because we are back open does not mean we can let our guard down against this virus.”
Stitt said more than 70% of new COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma are people younger than 50, a group that has a lower death and hospitalization rate.
He said young people need to be especially careful around the Fourth of July holiday when they may be around older friends and family.
For a second time, the governor publicly wore a face mask. The first time was in April at the Tinker Air Force Base where masks are required.
Stitt urged Oklahomans to follow his lead in wearing masks when social distancing is not possible, a recommendation the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been making for more than two months.
“We can extend the Oklahoma Standard by protecting our neighbors who maybe more vulnerable to this virus,” the Stitt said. “Wearing a mask when you cannot social distance significantly lowers the transition rate of COVID-19.”
The governor did not wear a mask at an indoor public event last week in Perry.
When asked why now is the time for him to begin wearing masks, Stitt said, “The CDC guidelines, if you can't maintain social distancing, then they recommend wearing a mask. We are trying to follow that guideline. That's where as governor I don't want to get to a point where we start shaming people for choosing not to wear a mask.”
He said he will never order people to wear masks.
Stitt also unveiled a new color coded plan to rate each county's COVID-19 situation, something the Trump administration is urging governors to do nationwide.
“Giving county by county guidance gives Oklahomans accurate pictures of the situation in their communities, it also encourages them to be personally responsible for their actions, knowing their behaviors can help keep their county in the green.”
The governor also announced a $4.4 million plan for the state health department to purchase mobile testing units.
Related: 585 More Coronavirus Cases, 2 New Virus-Related Deaths Reported In Oklahoma, State Health Officials Say