By Kimberly Marsh-McLoud
As the 14th Tulsa County death from Covid-19 was reported today in the joint Tulsa City and County news conference, leaders continued to warn Tulsans to stay at home to keep from spreading the disease and maintain a six-foot distance from other people if they have to leave the house.
In addition, officials are now recommending that individuals wear a face covering when going to the grocery store, pharmacy or elsewhere when it is a necessity to go out.
Dr. Bruce Dart, Tulsa Health Department Director, emphasized that face coverings are different from medical grade face masks that are in high demand throughout the world and needed for healthcare professionals. However, face coverings, he warned should not be used on children under 2-years-old or anyone with difficulty breathing or unable to remove them from their face by themselves. Face coverings are cloth or bandanas that can be sewn at home, using elastic to fit over the ears. For instructions on making a homemade mask, see the www.tulsahealth.org or DIY tutorial for bandanas on the department’s YouTube page as well as sewn face coverings with filters. Instructions for how to use other household items to make extra hand sanitizer and household disinfectant are also available online.
There are currently 537 eviction cases filed with the Tulsa County Courthouse, which is closed because of pandemic and has suspended its eviction docket. Mayor G.T. Bynum said officials are continuing to monitor housing to address long term housing needs and landlord actions in an effort to make sure tenants have a home to shelter in place. Tulsa County residents with housing needs or who are struggling with utility bills may call 2-1-1 to seek assistance. The City of Tulsa Water Department has already stated it will not shut off water for nonpayment while the community is in crisis.
EMSA President & COO Jim Winham said the cooperation and willingness of Tulsa citizens to adhere to stay at home / social distancing guidelines may be leading to reduced number of ambulance calls observed since last week. The agency is receiving 30 to 40 fewer calls per day.
EMSA has 300 employees, of which four have been quarantined because of potential spread and one who was showing no signs of the infection has tested positive. EMSA is constantly reviewing their guidelines and using strict protocols for disinfecting the vehicles and equipment after every run. Medics are screened for the virus when they report to duty.
Winham said EMSA’s contractor has, at this time, a minimum 2-month stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Tulsa medics to use.
Dr. Dart said with the widespread impact the County healthcare providers are seeing, Tulsan’s actions should reflect the best practices at all times.
“It knows no boundaries,” Dart said, stating that positive cases have been reported in all areas of Tulsa. “Do not get complacent.” He again reminded Tulsans to wash their hands frequently with soap and water and to use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol if soap and water is unavailable.
While there are questions about gloves being worn in public when going out to get needed supplies for the home, Dart said gloves are not a substitute for washing hands frequently.
“Leave the gloves at home. Save them for a time if someone in your house becomes sick. You will need to wear gloves when handling items the person has used, dishes, laundry.”
Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith warned citizens to avoid schemes that may occur in relation to the $1,200 impact payments being made fron the IRS to taxpayers. If the IRS does not have instructions for direct deposit of a check, it will be issued by mail.
“The IRS will not ask for personal information over the phone,” Keith said. “If you are a retiree, the IRS will send your check automatically.”
In other needs for the community, Keith said Tulsans may give blood through an Oklahoma Blood Institute drive on Thursday at the OSU Medical Center, 2345 Southwest Blvd. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or call 1-800-733-2767 for information on donation sites and hours. Keith said the number of volunteers for getting meals out to those who need them has been reduced by the safer at home guidelines, so more volunteers are needed and can find more information at mealsonwheelstulsa.org
Bynum praised Tulsans for doing their part to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
He said measures put in place are allowing the medical system to not be overwhelmed.
Citing a historic response, Bynum said the community is rallying behind everyone like never before. “What people need to know is how much support the community has for you.”
Bynum referred to three websites that will provide a wealth of information on the virus, prevention and how to receive care. Those are: www.tulsahealth.org www.cityoftulsa.org and tulsaresponds.org. All three have special Covid pages where information may be easily found.
Bynum said the City of Tulsa website shares publicly all of the data and documentation that he reviews to make decisions.
Anyone in Tulsa County who needs a healthcare provider or to be connected with testing facilities may call 2-1-1