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State publishes eight White House coronavirus reports

Oklahoma has been in the “red zone” for coronavirus cases for more than a month, according to White House reports published Monday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The reports show the state has been in the “red zone” for infections, which indicates more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population, since July 14.

The eight Oklahoma-specific White House Coronavirus Task Force reports were published at Gov. Kevin Stitt’s behest. Stitt asked that all of the reports be published after some local leaders complained about not receiving the information that includes locality-specific recommendations for reducing transmission of the virus.

On July 5, the second report issued from the task force said Oklahoma was in the “yellow zone” for coronavirus cases, having had 69 new cases per 100,000 population. The task force recommended limiting the occupancy of bars and the hours which they can be open. The report also encouraged the public use of face masks in hot spots, such as Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Within weeks, both Oklahoma City and Tulsa had adopted mask mandates, although it’s unclear if their actions were influenced by the reports since they may not have been receiving the reports at that time.

By July 14, the reports included specific recommendations for “red zone” localities, including Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County. It also, for the first time, labeled Oklahoma in the “red zone” for cases and “yellow zone” for testing — indicating between 5% to 10% of the state’s COVID-19 tests were positive.

However, the task force didn’t recommend Oklahoma implement a statewide mask mandate until its Aug. 2 report. Stitt has ignored that recommendation.

Previous reports recommended Oklahoma require masks in high-transmission areas.

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