OKLAHOMA CITY (April 2, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt issued Executive Order 2020-12 today, declaring a health emergency in all 77 Oklahoma counties for the next 30 days.
Under 63 O.S. § 6104 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the governor is granted broader powers during a health emergency, like the COVID-19 pandemic, to waive statutory or regulatory requirements as well as the ability to coordinate a cohesive statewide response among city and county health departments.
Gov. Stitt has designated the Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health as the primary public health authority responding to the emergency.
“Now is the time to align all public health entities in the state as we work together to prepare for a surge in demand on our hospitals,” said Gov. Stitt. “This will allow us to coordinate resources and ensure all Oklahomans have the best access to the medical care they need.”
This declaration also gives the governor the authority to allow health care professionals who have left the workforce to quickly rejoin the front lines against COVID-19 and protect first responders by helping them manage their personal protective equipment (PPE). By loosening some restrictions, first responders will be able to know if the home they are dispatched to has a resident who has tested positive for COVID-19. Patient names and other identifying information will still be restricted.
“It is so important that our first responders can protect themselves if they are entering a home with a COVID-19 patient,” said Gov. Stitt. “Notifying them ahead of their arrival allows them to use their PPE more efficiently.”
The legislature must confirm the health emergency declaration on the second business day following the date of issue. Gov. Stitt has called a special session to convene at 8 a.m. Monday at the Oklahoma State Capitol.