City forced to address rumors amidst spike in COVID-19 cases

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Downtown Stillwater on Saturday, March 7, 2020.

The City of Stillwater issued a press release on Friday, addressing rumors that were circulating regarding the spike in COVID-19 cases in the city.

Mayor Will Joyce posted to his social media accounts on Friday informing residents that 25 new cases of COVID-19 had been identified in town since Monday. According to the release, rumors were circulating that some number of these cases were related to the Stillwater Police Department or OSUPD. It was unclear whether the rumors were related to, or as a result of, Joyce’s post.

Although rumors around police officers being among those who tested positive were not true, the increase in positive cases is based in fact. Stillwater had 75 total cases of COVID-19 as of June 14, according to data from the State Health Department.

According to health department data, the 18-35 age range represent 28.71% of cases in Oklahoma. The next largest age group in terms of case count is 65 and older, with 22.30% of total cases in the state.

The city’s press release reminded residents to continue taking precautions, such as social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing masks in public. Although the rumors were ultimately debunked, they were not entirely unfounded.

According to the release, 15 police officers were in training at an isolated facility. A child of one of the officers in training attended a day camp with another child who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. However, the officer in question had not had contact with the child since Sunday. 

No officers from either the city or university police departments are currently in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure, according to the release.

Joyce is scheduled to provide a COVID-19 update at Monday night’s city council meeting, according to the agenda. The meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Although the meeting will be held by videoconference, but public comments can still be offered remotely. To offer public comment, go to stillwater.org/requesttospeak. Such requests must be made before 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Although the councilors will be participating remotely, the council chambers will remain open for residents who cannot, or prefer not, to participate remotely.