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Dr. Deborah Birx visits Tulsa

The big topic of discussion was preventing COVID-19 outbreaks in Oklahoma as students begin to return to school, Stitt said. The governor reiterated his preference is for schools to have in-person instruction this year.

“We just have to be very cautious as (students) start going back to school,” Stitt said. State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was in attendance, the governor said.

Birx was complimentary of Oklahoma’s college testing plan, Stitt said. That plan has not been detailed publicly, but it involves ensuring college students get tested for the coronavirus before moving into campus dorms.

Saying Birx is a firm believer in local control, Stitt said she didn’t recommend a statewide mask mandate.

Stitt has refused to implement a statewide mask mandate, saying such an order would be difficult to enforce. But data shows that mask requirements in Oklahoma’s two largest cities are contributing to declines in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

“Overall, we thought the visit went very well,” Stitt said. “She was very complimentary of Oklahoma and what we’ve done.”

Others present at the discussion included interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye; Secretary of Health and Mental Health Kevin Corbett; Secretary of Science and Innovation Elizabeth Pollard; First Lady Sarah Stitt; U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern; Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City; and Rep. Marcus McEntire, who leads a House subcommittee on health.

Stitt partially responded this week to the congressional inquiry from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that requested documents pertaining to Oklahoma’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations Stitt’s office received from the White House task force.

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