Thursday, October 15th 2020, 5:32 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck
Democratic lawmakers are taking aim at Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office, saying he isn’t being fully honest with Oklahomans about COVID-19.
House Democrats said the numbers speak for themselves: Oklahoma hospitals are facing a shortage of beds and staff to combat COVID-19.
The most recent data shows 781 people are in the hospital with the virus and only 124 ICU beds are available.
“They’re hurting, and it is a direct result of the fact that our leaders have not done a good enough job of explaining that this is serious and that it is easy to avoid getting COVID but you have to take the right precautions,” said state Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City.
Charlie Hannema, the governor’s chief of communications, said the state’s hospitals have beds available.
“Hospitals flex up, flex down all the time and we’re working on building some permanent infrastructure at OU Medical and OSU Medical Center in Tulsa. So those beds are still available. I want to make sure everybody knows. Those beds didn’t go away. We didn’t shudder anything. There isn’t plywood over a temporary wing anywhere,” Hannema said. “I think a lot of people kind of have this notion that everybody in the hospital has COVID. That’s just not what we’re seeing. One in 10 have COVID.”
“That doesn’t matter,” Bennett said. “A bed’s a bed, and if you have COVID, you need one. If you have another serious problem, you need one.”
The governor’s office said Democrats are playing political games with the virus.
“It’s disappointing when we’re trying to manage the comprehensive response to this, to be accused of hiding facts and not being transparent. The reality is our doors are open, all the legislators know how to reach the governor and his team,” Hannema said.