Over the course of two days, March 18 and March 19, leaders from three local municipalities (Madill, Kingston and Oakland) issued emergency proclamations.
The proclamations came after Governor Kevin Stitt held a press conference March 17 to update the public on Oklahoma’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Local municipalities looked to bring their own emergency response in line with two executive orders Stitt announced that day, EO 2020-07 and EO2020-08.
On March 18, the Madill City Council approved four items during an emergency meeting. The items approved were an emergency disaster proclamation, a civil emergency proclamation while also limiting public access to city hall and city-owned facilities.
All five members of the Madill City Council (mayor Travis Williams, vice mayor Bobby Davis, Terry Rushing, Shaunda Stanley and Mary Ann Hale) were in attendance at the special meeting. The group unanimously passed the four measures.
Later that evening, the Town of Kingston followed suit when its Town Hall met. The group passed a similar emergency declaration. The meeting was led by vice mayor Lillie Parrish as mayor Robbie Kendrick was absent. The other members of the town council were present. They are Gary Cluck, Michelle Bearden and Loren Runyan.
The Town of Oakland passed its own COVID-19 emergency declaration on March 19.
Ahead of a special meeting of the Madill City Council on March 17, city manager James Fullingim said the city’s leadership was preparing to act out of an abundance of caution.
“This is a a situation we’ve been monitoring closely,” he said. “We want to protect citizens and city employees.”
Fullingim said the City of Madill, like other municipalities cannot simply shut down in a time of crisis as they provide essential services such as police, fire, water treatment and sanitation.
Madill emergency manager Donny Raley said he and Fullingim were basing their recommendations to the city council off of information from the World Health Organization, the administrations of President Donald Trump and Governor Stitt and the Centers for Disease Control.
“We feel like we need to be leaders of that,” Raley said. “City facilities need to follow that. The State of Oklahoma is under state of emergency so we’re asking our council to follow suit.”
Raley said cases of COVID-19 had grown exponentially in Oklahoma over the past week.
“When I the office on Friday [March 13] there were two cases in Oklahoma,” he said. “Now it’s 29 in Oklahoma [on March 18].”
Raley said he has been in regular communication with the Region 8 Oklahoma State Department of Health and other local emergency management officials.
This includes Madill Police Chief Donald Yow, Marshall County Deputy Emergency Manager Daniel Nixon and James Kuykendall, who serves as both Kingston’s fire department chief and emergency manager.
Meanwhile, Fullingim has stayed in regular contact with business leaders including managers of stores such as Wal-Mart, Super C and Cash-Saver.
Raley added that he would be meeting with the head of the Ministerial Alliance to look at ways for local churches to continue to minister to their parishioners.
“Churches are a setting for the most vulnerable, our elderly,” Raley said. “Many go moved services online or used Facebook live.”
Fullingim and Raley were set to visit individually with each department of the City of Madill following the emergency city council meeting.
Fullingim said the focus of those meetings was to go over safety in different departments.
“The needs of the police department and the water department are different,” he said as an example.
In closing, Fullingim asked that the citizens of Madill be patient with the city government.
“There may be some things we have to implement that cause an inconvenience,” he said. “We would only do that in their best interest.”
Executive orders detailed
The first was Amended Executive Order (EO) 2020-07 which updated the State of Emergency issued by Stitt on March 15. The amended executive order included provisions suspending certain State regulations that could limit state and community partners from proactively reducing the threat of COVID-19 and responding quickly, according to a press release provided by the Oklahoma governor’s communications office.
The second executive order, 2020- 08, which “strongly recommends Oklahomans follow all guidance from the CDC to protect public health over the next 15 days.” Among several items, EO 2020-08 made the following recommendations:
If you feel sick, stay home and contact your medical provider. Do not go to work.
If your children are sick, keep them at home and contact their medical provider.
If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, keep the entire household at home and contact your medical provider.
Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.