TULSA, Okla. — A new report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force leaked to multiple media outlets is calling into question whether Dr. Deborah Birx actually said Oklahoma was doing fine on containing COVID-19 or if she forgot to mention new recommendations being suggested for Oklahoma when she visited Tulsa last weekend.
The new report published Aug. 16 by the task force lists multiple recommendations for Oklahoma’s worst “red zone” counties and what they would need to implement to contain the virus and get infection rates down.
Some of those recommendations are closing bars and gyms, and also limiting all social gatherings to no larger than 10 people.
The report also listed that business retailers and personal services should be made to wear masks and social distance.
Birx was not allowed to be seen let alone speak with members of the media during her trip to Tulsa last Sunday despite being interviewed and seen by media in neighboring states during her cross-country visits to advise states on how to better battle the virus.
Instead, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum were sent out as spokesmen for the group of state and local leaders who attended.
When asked what Birx told him, Stitt said she had no new recommendations, Oklahoma was following the White House plan, and she complimented the state on its testing plan.
“There weren’t really any recommendations in this meeting,” Stitt said. “We’ve already taken all of the White House recommendations and rolled out our color-coded maps and given our different counties recommendations.”
On Thursday, FOX23 asked Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, who attended a portion of the meeting, about what he heard Dr. Birx say. Bynum said was only invited to the meeting after the private 30-45 minute meeting Birx had with Stitt and some of his staff and cabinet.
“I went to the meeting expecting recommendations, and the closest she got was saying how important mask-wearing is,” Bynum said. “That she is not seeing any city or state that’s put a mask ordinance in place that hasn’t seen a decline in cases within two weeks. Beyond that, she said it was important for local government to base what they do by what they see on the ground.”
Bynum said Birx also went into the phases of the virus as it’s playing out and projected to play out in the U.S., and he felt it was awkward that he ended up having to relay and act as a spokesman for Birx instead of allowing her to meet with local members of the media.
When asked if he is upset about the report, which is mainly given to the governor to disseminate the information down to municipalities, Bynum said he was frustrated by the fact that something could be out there with guidance for Tulsa and he hasn’t been officially provided with a copy.
FOX23 reached out to Stitt’s office about the timing of the report on the same day as Birx’s visit to see where the disconnect took place between the report and what the doctor was planning on saying to Oklahoma during a trip President Trump said was to “offer guidance.”
Stitt’s office responded with the following statement:
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