Chris Wallace Tries to Play Gotcha With Oklahoma Governor Over Phased Re-Opening

(Joe Raedle/Pool via AP, File)

 

Oklahoma governor Gov. Kevin Stitt probably didn’t expect the amount of conflict he got while appearing on Fox News Sunday yesterday, but conflict is what he got.

While being interviewed by Chris Wallace, he received ample push-back, including a fairly lame gotcha attempt from the anchor. It’s important to note that Oklahoma only has 195 total deaths and that only 7% of their increased hospital bed capacity for the Wuhan virus is being used.

Stitt pointed out that the reason for the shut down in the first place was to build that capacity and PPE stockpiles, which they now have more than enough of.

“You have to go back and think about why we closed down in the first place,” said Stitt. “You know, I’ve issued 15 executive orders since March 15th, when I first declared the state of emergency, but it was to build capacity in our hospitals, to make sure we didn’t over run our health care system, it was to build supply for PPE and it was to flatten the curve.”

That’s been a contention in a lot of discussions lately about how to handle re-opening during the virus. In many cases, the goalposts have been seemingly moved. Flattening the curve does not mean ridding ourselves of the virus. It doesn’t even necessarily mean there will be less deaths overall. The point of flattening the curve was always to buy time and not overwhelm the healthcare system. In almost every corner of the United States outside of New York, that’s been accomplished in spades.

But Wallace pulled out a clip of someone named Dr. George Monks to try to play gotcha.

Wallace pushed back with a clip from the head of Oklahoma’s medical association, Dr. George Monks, saying the state is “far from” a two-week downward trajectory in cases.

“Well, I don’t know exactly who that is, but the Department of Health head in our state is Gary Cox, and we have followed all of the White House guidelines,” Stitt responded. “There were four gates that we’ve met. And the facts are, we have been on a steady decline since March 30th in hospitalizations and we have 300 across our state. And that’s when we decided to have a measured reopening.”

Stitt didn’t know who Monks was, which is more than understandable given he’s not part of any decision making at the government level. The claim that the state is “far from” a two week downward trajectory is also misleading. Oklahoma has seen a steady decline going back to April 10th, where they peaked. The idea of a downward trajectory is not that you won’t have off days where more cases are reported than the last, but that the trend is overall declining via the average. That’s clearly happened in Oklahoma. You don’t reset the clock every single time you have one day with one more infection than the last. Otherwise, no one would ever open.

Wallace knows this, but given several of his past interviews, he seems to be very much in the vein of pushing back on anyone who seeks to offer some relief to their states. That’s an easy opinion to hold while still collecting a very large check. It’s much more complicated for others.

Stitt responded once more after a question about the President with this salient line.

“And you could always play Monday morning quarterback and say, hey, let’s wait until we have 100 folks in the hospital in Oklahoma or 50 or zero, but I just don’t think that’s practical,” Stitt continued. “So we’ve done what we set out to do on March 15th.”

That’s the right answer. The point was always to not overwhelm the healthcare system, not to get to zero deaths, something that is not possible. Stitt is doing the right thing for his state and if they see too large of a resurgence, they can always snap back. The media’s war on these governors is not helping anyone. It’s leaving millions in a destitute, dangerous state and that has real consequences, whether anyone wants to face them or not.