Oklahoma announces up to $250M for local coronavirus costs
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, the first governor in the nation to test positive for the coronavirus, was infected when he hugged two friends from Tulsa, Stitt spokesperson Charlie Hannema said Thursday.
“The governor had a meeting with some close personal friends who came down from Tulsa to talk about a ministry between police and the African American community,” Hannema said. “He kind of broke his own rule and hugged them.”
At least one of the two men, whom Hannema did not identify, later tested positive for the virus.
The meeting took place July 10 in Oklahoma City, and was not connected to Stitt’s attendance at a June 20 campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Tulsa. Stitt announced July 15 that he was quarantining himself following a positive test.
Stitt has also said that no one he was in contact with prior to isolating himself, including his family, has tested positive for the virus.
The source of the infection was first reported by The Oklahoman Thursday.
Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that he also has the coronavirus.
RELIEF FUNDS-CITIES AND COUNTIES
Earlier Thursday, Stitt said up to $250 million is being made available to cities and counties in Oklahoma to support coronavirus-related expenses.
The funding will be distributed based on a city or county’s population in 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates with about $77 earmarked per capita, Stitt said in a news release.
The state received about $1.5 billion in relief funding with about $1.2 billion available as some $300 million was earmarked to cities and counties with populations of more than 500,000.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Thursday reported 41,401 coronavirus cases and 593 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, increases of 837 confirmed cases and 10 deaths from those reported Wednesday.
The true number of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The health department reported 643 people hospitalized either with the virus or under investigation for infection, down from 645 hospitalizations on Wednesday.
Stitt announced Thursday they are setting aside 245 more hospital beds in Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa to handle a possible surge. Health officials said the state also has an option on another 95 beds in Oklahoma City, if needed.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.