New leaked White House report contradicts lack of COVID-19 recommendations given to Oklahoma

New leaked White House report contradicts lack of COVID-19 recommendations given to Oklahoma

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.

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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.

VIDEO: Dr. Birx visits Tulsa

“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:

“Every week, we review and discuss the COVID-19 guidance that comes to us from Washington, DC.
The most recent State Report for Oklahoma, prepared by The White House Coronavirus Task Force on Aug. 16 and issued to the states on Aug. 17, was shared earlier this week with the Tulsa Health Department and OKC-County Health Department, and we have asked the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to begin making the reports publicly available each week by posting them to the coronavirus.health.ok.gov dashboard.
My administration issued a Public Health Advisory to strongly recommend statewide face coverings for high-risk individuals and communal living facilities as well as additional measures for counties included in the orange and red risk level categories in the color-coded COVID-19 Alert System.
Orange and Red Counties: Individuals age 11 and older wear face coverings in public settings, with exemptions including while eating at a restaurant, in a private office space, or at a religious ceremony where physical distancing can be achieved.
Orange and Red Counties: Restaurant staff wear face coverings and tables should maintain six feet of distance or more.
Statewide: Individuals age 11 and older wear face coverings when visiting nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, medical facilities, prisons, or other communal living facilities.
Statewide: With the “Safer in Oklahoma” policy, individuals entering the State of Oklahoma from an area with substantial community spread, will wear a face covering in all public spaces and limit participating indoor gatherings for 10-14 days in accordance with CDC guidelines.
The rate of positive cases is declining in Oklahoma and hospitalizations have remained stable.I remain encouraged by the steadfast resolve of Oklahoma’s frontline workers as they aggressively combat this virus. Let’s continue to come together as Oklahomans by following guidelines and furthering our downward trend.”