Skip to main content

More on Why Oklahoma Should Have Already Fully Opened


Governor Stitt has declared that some businesses can open on Friday. By May 1, all enterprises in the state will be able to operate more or less normally. Eventually, at some unspecified date, Oklahoma will be fully operating again. But the question remains, and must be asked, “Was the shutdown and extreme social distancing even necessary?”

For several reasons, the answer is a clear and unequivocal “No.”

Let’s start with this little gem from a blog by an Oklahoma State University academic. “Harvard University epidemiologists determined that continuing extreme social distancing measures into the summer months could actually result in more COVID-19 deaths than a ‘do nothing from the beginning’ alternative.”

Now, it might sound like this only confirms the decision to open up now and not extend the shutdown into the summer. But in fact, the Harvard study has a lot more to say about how this epidemic has been handled than might immediately be obvious. The Harvard study recommends social distancing only be implemented when healthcare-related resources might be overwhelmed, in favor of developing “herd immunity” (a high level of general population immunity) as quickly as possible.

The recommendation by the Harvard epidemiologists, based on COVID-19 case history, is that government-mandated social distancing (shutting businesses) only be implemented when the number of currently confirmed COVID-19 cases are 39.33 TIMES greater than the number of ICU beds. That is:

IF 39.33 x (# ICU beds) < (# active COVID cases), then shutdown is justified.

The Harvard epidemiologists make a recommendation for opening back up only when the number of COVID cases is much reduced, but let’s focus on the shutdown threshold. Have we ever reached it?

Not even close. The IMHE COVID-19 model makers credit Oklahoma with 500 available ICU beds. An April 20 Oklahoma State Department of Health report credits Oklahoma with 1,024 total ICU beds, with 365 available. Obviously, ICU beds will be occupied by critical cases other than COVID-19, so let’s just credit Oklahoma with either 365 or 500 available ICU beds and apply the Harvard formula:

39.33 x 365 = 14,355

39.33 x 500 = 19,655.

These figures say that Oklahoma should only implement mandated social-distancing measures if the number of active COVID-19 cases exceeds (erring conservatively) either 14,000 or 19,000 cases.

The total number of COVID-19 cases Oklahoma has suffered so far is 2,894, FAR below either of the above case threshold conditions for shutting down. But actually, 1,772 have recovered, so the real comparison to be made is to the number of known active cases, which stands at 1,122. The obvious conclusion is that the shutdown in Oklahoma never should have happened, at least up to now. And, it shouldn’t happen again until the number of active, known cases gets far higher than it’s ever been to this point.

The very same point as the OSU blog is made in a recent The Hill editorial by a Stanford University M.D. that there is now more than enough data about actual cases to end the shutdowns across the country right now, not tomorrow, and certainly not a week from now. Fact is, bad decisions have been made in Oklahoma and across the country based on highly speculative information that has largely proven baseless. 

We decried the closing of schools a month ago, based on data-aware judgments from experts. We recently pointed out that expert epidemiologists are concerned our actions are more harmful than helpful. We explicitly called for an immediate end to the shutdown. The evidence keeps stacking up that the shutdown was never necessary or desirable in the first place. So why are our leaders still acting so cautiously and talking about a staged opening?

Open up, fully, NOW!

Byron Schlomach is 1889 Institute Director and can be contacted at bschlomach@1889institute.org.


The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of 1889 Institute.

Popular posts from this blog

Dear GT Bynum, Let the Children Play

I live close to a large City of Tulsa park that has a golf course, walking trail, green spaces, and a couple of playgrounds. My (almost) three-year old son loves the playgrounds, and often begs us during walks in our neighborhood to detour to “for-chun” (LaFortune Park). This seemingly innocent request can become a hassle when we don’t really have time, but we indulge him as much as possible. It’s good for kids to play outside, especially with other kids they might not otherwise come into contact with. But sometimes we have to contend with an upset toddler who doesn’t understand why we can’t go to the playground right this minute. I’m not complaining, every parent of young kids deals with similar stuff. But during the COVID lockdown, we’ve had to contend with an altogether different LaFortune Park situation with our son. As part of the mayor’s shelter-in-place overkill, all city-owned playgrounds were closed “ indefinitely .” This wasn’t a guideline or suggestion, the city meant busine

When It Comes to the Cox Center, “What if I Get to Meet a Movie Star?” Isn’t Good Enough

In a recent   post , 1889 Institute expounded on the fiduciary duty of elected officials “to act in the best interest of the people of the state as a whole,” a “high duty, executed as a public trust … wherein one puts the people’s interest above one’s own.” This fiduciary duty must not stop with elected officials. Once an elected body or an elected official – the legislature, a city council, the governor, or a mayor – has taken final action, the faithful implementation of each enacted law, policy, or program falls to an army of bureaucrats. Thus, a fiduciary duty to execute laws and policies with diligence and integrity, tantamount to that of elected officials, must extend to government employees. Recently, I had a few moments to sit down and watch a show with my children. Unsurprisingly, my son picked a series entitled “The Stinky and Dirty Show.” I was naturally skeptical that the show would yield any real value. However, as I watched, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Each episod

COVID Inspires Tyranny for the "Good" of Its Victims

The Christian philosopher, C.S. Lewis, once said, "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies." The moral busybodies C.S Lewis warns of reminds me of those who would have Americans give up their liberty to combat COVID-19.   A recent Oklahoman op-ed compared COVID-19 to World War II, stating that the number of deaths from COVID-19 is approaching the number that died fighting for this country and the freedoms it protects. This comparison is, of course, nonsense. This suggests that a virus with a high survivability rate is an equivalent threat to the Nazi and Japanese regimes that brutally murdered millions. The piece uses wartime rationing of meat and cheese, a sacrifice necessary to ensure men on the front lines had adequate nutrition, to justify Americans accepting counterproductive lockdowns in exchange for additional stimulus c

The High Duty of Elected Officials and Ways They Fall Short

With an election just completed (the alleged voting, anyway), a legislative session coming up, constant talk of spending to offset the impacts of COVID-19, and elected officials trying to mandate our way out of a disease, the duty of elected officials in their official positions is worth considering. The 1889 Institute recently published a booklet for state lawmakers that discusses various issues and possible solutions. Included in that booklet is a short discussion of the central duty of elected officials, which is expanded here. What is the central, over-arching duty of an individual after having been elected to public office? Public oaths of office give a strong hint, and the Oklahoma Constitution is a good place to start. Article XV includes the oath of office, which states that an Oklahoma public official swears to “support, obey, and defend” the constitutions of the nation and the state, that the official will not take bribes, and that the official will discharge duties as best