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Gov. Stitt Announces End To State's Coronavirus Safeguards

Oklahoma officials provide COVID update during a press conference on March 11, 2021.
Screen capture
Oklahoma officials provide COVID update during a press conference on March 11, 2021.

On the one-year anniversary of the canceled Oklahoma City Thunder game that marked the pandemic's arrival in the United States, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced an end to the state’s already limited coronavirus safeguards.

After taking a limited approach to mask mandates — opting for one that applied only to government property — and venue occupancy caps, Stitt on Thursday announced an end to all precaution requirements. He touted sharp decreases in hospitalizations and case counts.

"The standard for normal cannot be zero cases," Stitt said. "In Oklahoma, the standard for normal is freedom."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky warned against these exact decisions in a March 1st briefing, noting that new strains of the virus are spreading and the drop in cases nationwide is stalling.

"These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress," Walensky said. "Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close."

Despite the decrease in case counts, Oklahoma remains in the top 10 for new infections and test positivity.

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