I applaud Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for lifting his mask mandate and reopening Texas’ economy. Statewide mask mandates have done little to flatten the curve and keeping businesses locked down kills jobs and hurts the state long-term.
That’s why Oklahoma has been open since last June and I’ve trusted Oklahomans over mask mandates.
From the onset of the COVID pandemic, my decisions have been guided by three principles — keep Oklahomans safe, keep businesses open and keep kids in school. I firmly believe that as the chief executive for all four million Oklahomans, making any decision based on one set of facts is irresponsible.
And it’s paid off. Literally.
While other states are waking up to billion-dollar deficits (New York is $10.2 billion in debt), double-digit unemployment and the reality that the safest place for kids is in school, Oklahoma has a $1.6 billion surplus, our unemployment is a full point lower than the national average and nearly every school has been reopen since August.
Despite constant criticism from the media and the left, I never once entertained a mask mandate here in Oklahoma. I always trusted Oklahomans to do the right thing and keep each other safe. And they have.
Today our hospitalizations are down 75% and all of Oklahoma is in Tier 1 of the state’s hospital surge plan, the lowest alert level.
New COVID cases are down to the lowest daily average since August.
Keeping Oklahomans safe is always my number one priority as governor. But I will put my trust in Oklahomans before I put my trust in government any day of the week.
Our state health department has done a tremendous job rolling out the vaccine. That’s why Oklahoma is among the Top Ten states for percentage of population with at least one dose, despite a delay in supply after we were hit by a historic winter storm.
Nearly 20% of Oklahoma has received at least one dose and this week we’ll begin administering 30,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
I encourage governors across the country to join Oklahoma, and now Texas and Mississippi, in trusting their citizens and reopening their states.
As I have said from the beginning, the standard for going back to normal cannot be zero cases.
In America, the standard for normal is freedom. It always has been, and it always should be.
Kevin Stitt is currently serving as the governor of Oklahoma.