About 30 years ago, my doctor told me that I needed to lose about 40 pounds. “Tommy, if I lost 40 pounds, I’d be dead.”

          Regrettably, my subconscious registered his wisdom as a challenge. Instead of losing 40 pounds – or even five – I gravitated in the other direction, to such an extent (expanse?) that dieting – well, trying to diet – became somewhat of a constant in my life.

          I know the diet routine well. Strive and deprive all week, and then celebrate that hard work with a weekend of “rewards” such as ice cream, pastries, over-indulgences of all kinds.  


          Ignoring the non-action of Gov. Kevin Stitt, who was cavorting about and eating out right up until he finally issued wishy-washy guidelines, most Oklahomans – watching the coronavirus devastation elsewhere – started self-isolating and self-distancing long before any restrictions were put into place.

          Some cities have been better led than others, which blatantly put profits ahead of public safety. But, as a whole, individual Oklahomans acted responsibly. We have not experienced the massive onslaughts of states on either coast. (The Boston Globe recently published 16 pages of obituaries.)

          But, that doesn’t mean we have beaten COVID-19. It’s out there. If it gets a foothold in the state, we will see ever higher sickness and death totals. Which gets us back to my dieting reference.

          Since citizen-generated responsible isolation and self-distancing have been successful, our governor decided to reward Oklahomans by opening up the state for business again against the state’s own medical evidence. Barber shops, nail salons and pet groomers were given the state’s green light on April 24,” as reported by Chris Polansky of Tulsa Public Radio. Restaurant dining rooms, movie theatres, gyms and other businesses could re-open as of Friday,

          Polansky’s report came April 23, and centered on doubts from the medical community about Stitt’s plan:

          “The president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association said Thursday that he is not confident that Governor Kevin Stitt’s plan to begin reopening the state’s economy on April 24th is a good idea.

          “’We think it’s probably premature,’ said Dr. George Monks. ‘It’s probably a hasty or overambitious plan to open up this soon.’

          “Monks said that the criteria issued by the Trump administration for when to begin reopening states include at least two weeks of declining cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He said that the state is actually seeing growth in the spread of the virus, citing the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s own released data.

          “’There’s definitely not a two-week downward trend in any of these metrics,’ Dr. Monks said.”

          He said that on Thursday. Sunday on Fox Faux News, Stitt – as allergic to facts as the president – ”claimed that hospitalizations in the state ‘peaked on March 30.’ However, he seems to be unaware that the greatest increase in reported COVID-19 cases came just five days before his appearance,” according to Sarah K. Burris of Raw Story.

          Burris continued, adding this quote from Dr. Monks: “’Even without widespread testing, Oklahoma has seen an ongoing growth in the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the past week alone,’ said the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.”

          That lack of testing renders our statistics suspect.

          Since then the New York Times has reported the death spikes in four states this year as compared to averages for previous years has been much greater than those directly attributed to COVID-19 and USA Today added Texas to that list of possible under-reporting last week just as its Republican governor re-opened the state on the very day of the coronavirus death toll hit a new high. We might not being doing as well as we think.

          Oklahomans have no natural immunity to COVID-19. We have been spared its devastation because we have been smarter than our governor in recognizing how dangerous it is and in prioritizing Oklahoma lives over profits. We would be wise to maintain these convictions – or we might find ourselves snatching defeat out of the jaws of success.

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)

Rewarding success with risky behavior

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