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Oklahoma will resume elective surgeries next week; governor confident in state's hospital capacity


'Our curve is flattening'

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R). (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced Tuesday that the state would allow hospitals to resume elective surgeries next week after temporarily suspending them to save resources for treatment of COVID-19.

The temporary ban on elective procedures was financially damaging to hospitals and medical practices, mainly because Oklahoma has not experienced the kind of coronavirus outbreak seen in places like New York and Washington state. At least one Oklahoma City hospital temporarily closed recently, and health care workers have been laid off.

"Elective surgeries will be able to resume starting on April 24th. We suspended them to protect hospital beds in case of a surge & to protect PPE for our healthcare workers treating #COVID19 patients. Based on our data, we now feel confident about our hospital numbers & PPE," Stitt wrote on Twitter. "Additionally, my team is working with @HealthyOklahoma on a plan to safely & responsibly re-open businesses across our state while continuing to prioritize the health & safety of all Oklahomans."

The rate of increase of new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths has been relatively flat in Oklahoma in recent weeks. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state has been far less than projected, which is why Stitt feels hospitals can resume normal operations while still remaining prepared to treat the coronavirus.

Still, the governor plans to continue social distancing and stay-at-home policies until at least May 6.

"OUR CURVE IS FLATTENING & we are making great progress in Oklahoma, but now is not the time to take our foot off the gas. What we do over the next two weeks will significantly impact what we can do after April 30," Stitt tweeted. "I extended my Safer at Home order until May 6 to continue to protect our vulnerable populations. While overall data trends look positive, we know this virus can be deadly. We need to keep practicing #SocialDistancing, washing hands frequently & limiting trips outside of our home."

Pressure for states to allow businesses to reopen is increasing as the rate of the coronavirus spread gradually slows, and the rate of unemployment in the U.S. continues to skyrocket. Approximately 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the past four weeks.

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