Some states are requiring residents who have crossed borders into areas with higher COVID-19 rates to quarantine for 14 days. Oklahoma isn't among them - not yet.
A travel advisory was issued Wednesday, June 24, for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, requiring anyone who recently traveled to quarantine if they've arrived from states with higher COVID-19 rates. The travel advisory applied Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas, as of June 25.
The status of Arkansas, with its border less than an hour's drive from Tahlequah, has raised some concerns.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, 24 states issued at least one executive order restricting interstate travel. At least 11 states that had limited travel have revoked those orders. Oklahoma's travel restriction began March 29 and was revoked on May 11, and this month, the number of positive cases has skyrocketed.
Since the reopening of Tahlequah businesses on June 5, few to no restrictions have been set in place.
Mayor Sue Catron said city officials elsewhere have mandated the use of masks in public. She said she hopes to avoid having to make such a decision, at least until a vaccine is developed.
"Our numbers are better than our surrounding counties. I encourage our Tahlequah residents to help keep our numbers low and our neighbors safe," she said. "Practicing social distancing and wearing a mask has a real bearing on the health of our community and on the ability of our health care systems to serve our needs."
The Crisis Task Force group is still meeting twice a month, and its next meeting is slated for July 6.
"When we last met, both health systems were confident that they had the supplies, bed spaces and staff to meet the current and projected demand. Both assured the task force they will communicate their concerns if they feel action is needed," Catron said. "I trust that they will do so, even as I continue to monitor our increase in numbers and watch what is happening in the counties surrounding us."
Ward 4 Councilor Trae Ratliff, head of the Economic Recovery Task Force team, said a new mask commercial will come out on Monday, June 29.
"We also posted on the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce site that if folks feel inclined, they can activate a COVID tracker on their cell phones," said Ratliff. "That will notify you if you have potentially been exposed, based on cell data and proximity to other cell phone users."
Instructions on how to set up COVID-19 Exposure Notifications is posted on TACC Facebook page.