OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — If the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Oklahoma continues to trend downward, some businesses could begin to open back up as early as May 1, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday.
Stitt said at a news conference that the state is continuing to ramp up its testing capacity and is dedicating more resources to contact tracing, in alignment with guidelines released by the Trump administration on Thursday for reopening the country’s economy. Contact tracing involves interviewing those who have the coronavirus about their movements and contact with others. University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University medical students are assisting with the project.
“If our positive trends continue, we hope to share more details next week on how to roll that out,” Stitt said.
Stitt said churches, retailers and restaurants are all working on plans on how to safely reopen their businesses.
“I am committed to protecting our most vulnerable populations, but I’m also committed to protecting hard-working Oklahomans who are struggling right now to pay their bills and they’re ready to get back to work,” Stitt said.
State health officials reported five new coronavirus deaths on Friday, bringing the state’s death toll to 136. The number of confirmed cases jumped Friday by about 200 to 2,465.
Stitt said more than one-third of the people who have died of COVID-19 in Oklahoma are residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities. He said he’s deploying National Guard soldiers to help deep clean those facilities and to train staff on how to most effectively sanitize them.