Carl's Capitol Comments: The key to a smart reopening: personal responsibility
April 29, 2020
I know the governor announced a three-phase plan last week to reopen Oklahoma churches and businesses, and sports and entertainment venues. We need to get our economy restarted but also be smart in doing so. I think the most important part of making this a safe and successful transition is personal responsibility. First, you know your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Second, if you are immunologically suppressed or have other health concerns, please stay isolated as much as possible. The virus is still out there and likely will be out there for months to come. Third, be responsible when you are in public. If you are elderly or immunologically suppressed take advantage of the early morning and avoid high traffic times. Fourth, even if you are healthy, please be cautious when around others as many have had the virus but were asymptomatic. I know no one wants to be the cause of someone else becoming sick.
Each phase of the governor’s plan will be based on the numbers of new positive COVID-19 illnesses and hospitalizations. We all want to keep the public safe even as we work to restart our economy.
The governor’s plan will still require those over the age of 65 or who have a compromised immune system to stay home except for essential trips to the grocery store and pharmacy. Visits to nursing homes, hospitals and other long-term care facilities are still prohibited. People in the public also should continue to maintain a social distance of at least six feet as well as wear masks when appropriate.
Starting April 24, elective surgeries may resume. Personal care businesses such as hair and nail salons, barbershops, spas and pet groomers may reopen by appointment only. Customers should be distanced from each other and proper sanitation practices followed.
Employers should create plans to allow employees to return to work in phases, keeping all common areas closed and enforcing social distancing protocols.
State parks and other outdoor recreation areas may reopen. Grocery stores should continue to maintain special hours for vulnerable populations.
Starting May 1, minor medical and dental procedures may resume. Restaurant dining rooms, movie theaters, gyms and sporting venues may reopen. Churches can reopen for services as long as they leave every other row or pew unoccupied to allow for social distancing. Church nurseries should stay closed until Phase 2. Bars, schools, organized sporting events and camps also are to remain closed until Phase 2.
If hospitalizations and incident rates remain manageable for 14 days, we can then move into Phase 2. During this phase, non-essential travel can begin to resume. Organized sports activities can be held. Bars can reopen with diminished standing-room occupancy. Funerals and weddings can resume. Church nursery areas can reopen.
Another 14-day monitoring period will then take place before we move into Phase 3, where employers can hopefully resume normal functions and camps can reopen.
I’m cautiously optimistic about this plan. So far, our hospitalization and incident rates are lower than expected and manageable. We have excess hospital beds and personal protection equipment available. Like I said, we’ll keep a close eye to ensure we don’t see a spike in the number of illnesses or deaths. We want to keep people safe and healthy, but we must start to restore our economy so that we will have money available to take care of core services.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. You may reach me by email at [email protected], or phone me at 405-557-7339. Please continue to pray for our State and nation and continue to look for ways you can be a blessing to others. May God bless you and the State of Oklahoma.