Rep. Mize: Social distancing is working in Oklahoma

There’s good news about Oklahoma’s fight against COVID-19. Projections show that we are flattening the curve, and the situation looks better now than it did previously.

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The expected peak for hospitalized COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma has been pushed back from mid-April to April 30. This is great news, as it gives our state more time to prepare for a surge of cases. The estimated number of hospitalizations during our peak has also decreased thanks in large part to significant social distancing efforts by the Governor and local leaders.

As a result of this good news, the Governor announced that elective surgeries, which have been postponed for several weeks to help reserve personal protection equipment, can resume on April 24. Many rural hospitals in the state rely on income from elective surgeries, so this is good news for rural areas.

The Governor also announced this week that he was looking at plans to begin the process of reopening the state. Although he said it could happen as soon as May 6, that is not a definite date yet. When nonessential businesses do begin to reopen, it will be slowly, with a few people retuning to work and gradually resuming our normal practices. The safer-at-home order remains in effect until at least April 30.

In the meantime, if you show symptoms of the virus, please get tested at your local testing site. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Although older adults and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk, coronavirus can make people of all ages seriously ill.

Each Oklahoma county now has one drive-thru testing location, and there are 88 sites statewide. Testing requirements and capacity varies by location, so please check to find out more information about your local testing site. Drive-thru testing is available in both Oklahoma and Logan counties. A full list of sites and contact information is available at coronavirus.health.ok.gov/drive-thru-testing.

Even with everything that is going on, please don’t neglect to complete the 2020 census. Census counts help determine how much funding and services our towns and cities receive annually for the next decade. A high response rate from all Oklahomans means more resources for our community. This funding can go to schools, roads and other projects to benefit our state.

For every Oklahoman that is not counted, our state loses an estimated $1,675 per person per year. Over the next decade, that’s almost $17,000 in lost funding for every person not counted in the census! Instead, that money will be appropriated to other states.

Oklahoma and Logan Counties are ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, for response rates across the entire state so far. Both have about a 49% response rate as of April 13 data. However, our state is lagging behind the national response rate. The national response rate is 48.6%, and Oklahoma overall has a 43.6% response rate so far.

To complete the census, visit 2020census.gov. It only takes 10 minutes, but it has huge implications for the next 10 years in our state!

Despite the progress we have made in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we still have a long road ahead of us. There are a lot of uncertainties in a situation such as this. Please do your part and continue to stay home and wash your hands often. We will be on the other side of this pandemic quicker if we all work together for the greater good.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 31!

Rep Garry Mize, a Republican, serves District 31 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Logan and Oklahoma counties.

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