St. Francis CEO pleads with public for help in combating COVID-19

Hospitals continue to see a surge in COVID-19 cases, with most new cases in Tulsa coming from suburban and rural communities

Tulsa — The CEO of Oklahoma’s largest hospital system issued a plea for help Tuesday, as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the state, along with hospitalizations and fatalities.

Despite spurious claims of hoaxes or political skewing of statistics, the stark reality is that hospitals have seen a steady climb of new cases in recent weeks, with the majority of them coming from rural and suburban communities which have refused to implement mask mandates or other measures designed to slow the spread of the virus.

“If there was ever a time, I think, when people needed to take responsibility for their sisters and their brothers, it is that time,” Drake said. “I just fear that we are entering a very, very dark winter.”

“Our plea to our citizens in Tulsa and the eastern region of the state is the same as it always has been: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. We are headed in the wrong direction,” Drake added.


Dr. Roger Gallup, a veteran and a pulmonologist at St. Francis, spoke of the pandemic in terms of war.

“I never thought after the army, I’d be on another battlefield,” Gallup said. “Yet here we are. Our ICUs, COVID units, and community have become home to an enemy that we’re losing the fight against. This virus is real. The effects are devastating, and we are clearly headed in the wrong direction.”

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum pointed out the rural and suburban nature of the spike in new cases, and said there’s not much he or the Tulsa City Council can do about how cities outside their jurisdiction choose to handle the situation.

“The vast majority of those that are hospitalized in Tulsa right now with COVID-19 don’t live in the city limits of Tulsa. They are from, folks that live outside the city limits of Tulsa, over which the city council and I do not have the ability to impact, or to put in mitigation strategies that will help protect them.”

Bynum urges the leaders of nearby communities to meet with hospital administrators, doctors, and other experts to get the advice they need to find ways to slow the spread of the virus.

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