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Guest column: Ardmore needs to get real with the COVID crisis

The Daily Ardmoreite
Mita Bates

This is real! This is NOT political! This is a health CRISIS!

This week has marked several “Top Ten” rankings for Carter County and none of them are the legacy we wish to have. Carter County ranked #1 in COVID cases per capita in Oklahoma and #7 in the entire United States! These are valid data sources from covidactnow.org, and the reality is confirmed by our healthcare system and providers.

Mercy Hospital is doing all it can to stretch its staff and space to accommodate COVID admissions, including the waiting rooms. They are having to curtail other services in order to redeploy staff to assist with these patients. What does this mean? First, if you have a non-COVID health crisis, your care might be impacted or delayed– there are only so many workers to handle the tsunami of patients. Second, an update from the Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Service stated that “Our hospital is currently experiencing a crisis-level event. EMS has been overwhelmed for weeks now, and today we have as many as eight patients to get to Oklahoma City on top of a call volume that spiked all morning. We have called in regional reinforcements. Everyone is busy, and most Oklahoma City hospitals are full. The entire hospital at Ardmore has been inundated. The Emergency Department is running on fumes right now.”

Area business and industry are impacted daily with employees suffering from COVID and others not able to work due to quarantine or caring for family. Restaurants and retail suffer due to the reluctance of individuals to venture into public. City and County services are impacted when entire departments are impacted and cannot perform their functions.

THIS IS REAL!

Now is the time for each of us to take a long, hard look at our daily activities. Are we, in fact, complying with CDC Guidelines as they recommend wearing a mask (once again, not a political issue), washing our hands, and maintaining a safe distance. We are all tired of not being able to interact as we like, but our choice is simple – we can continue our current trend and totally overwhelm our healthcare system, increase the number of COVID deaths, or we can commit ourselves to “Slow the Roll” and put the great good of all Southern Oklahoma before our own desires.

Join me and the Chamber staff and let’s pause for just 10 days – it will make a difference! We need to pause family and friend gatherings, let’s continue to support area restaurants and retail by utilizing “takeout” for a week and taking advantage of the great online shopping options by our local merchants. It will work! Stay Strong-Stay Safe!

— Mita Bates is the president and CEO of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce.