Another Republican Politician Tests Positive For COVID-19 After Eschewing Safety Measures
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt was among many who initially downplayed the severity of the pandemic. Now, he’s tested positive for COVID-19 himself.
Free Press OK reported in April that Governor Stitt had posted a photo to his Twitter account, boasting about their visit to a crowded restaurant. He deleted the photo after backlash, but reportedly the post originally said, “Eating with my kids and all my fellow Oklahomans at the @CollectiveOKC. It’s packed tonight! #supportlocal #OklaProud.”
Shortly thereafter, Stitt declared a state of emergency, but even in his video encouraging caution, he told those who aren’t exhibiting symptoms that there’s no need to shut down completely, as long as they pay attention to how they feel.
In order to provide our hard working public health officials, health care providers, state agencies & small businesses the ability to unlock additional resources as we respond to COVID-19, we have issued an emergency declaration for the State of Oklahoma: https://t.co/iXfGbZeni8 pic.twitter.com/UCYSbar7PN
— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) March 16, 2020
Public Radio Tulsa reported that restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, and churches were being allowed to reopen on May 1st, and early that month, Stitt boasted of health clubs reopening, and of the state’s low number of cases.
In June, the state saw surges of COVID-19, including some linked to the president’s rally in Tulsa. The Oklahoman reported at the time that Governor Stitt defended the rally, saying that anyone who didn’t feel it was safe to attend should just stay home. “There’s over a million requests right now to go to the rally. It’s really unprecedented how many folks have requested tickets. So there’s a lot of folks that want to be there, want to support the president. But of course you need to make the best decision for your family.”
The Enid News & Eagle reported by the end of the month that Governor Stitt had said any new shutdowns was not a consideration, and “…again we just have to learn how to live with it.” He also said that masks might be a good idea, but that he wouldn’t mandate them.
Koko News 5 reported Wednesday morning that the governor had held a video news conference saying that he’s tested positive. “It’s still in Oklahoma. We need to take this virus very seriously…It’s not going away. We have to adjust our behavior, be aware of our surroundings,wash our hands…I got tested yesterday and the results came back positive.”
He said he’s isolating away from his family and will be working from home, and that he’s working with contact tracers.