OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, released the following statement today in response to statements made by Governor Kevin Stitt after President Biden announced a national vaccine mandate yesterday evening.
“Over the last several months, Governor Kevin Stitt and Republicans in the Legislature have remained silent on how to keep our children safe during this pandemic.
“The governor and those same Republicans hamstrung local officials with Senate Bill 658, which stripped school boards and local governments of the ability to implement a policy that protects the lives of children.
“As Republicans in Oklahoma and across the country continue to play political games, hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans have been infected by COVID, students and teachers have gotten seriously ill, and too many Oklahomans have died.
“On top of the inaction from the last seven months, Americans have been forced to parse through misinformation and lies pushed by an extremist faction of the Republican Party. We have had to do so while Republicans that know better have remained silent out of fear of upsetting their fellow party members.
“Then, last night, President Joe Biden showed us that there are leaders in America that don’t believe COVID has to be our ‘new normal.’ In response, Oklahoma’s Republican leadership that has been silent on COVID since March finally spoke up - not in support of the lifesaving action, but against it.
“I understand that nobody likes a mandate, but if Republicans want to find someone to blame for the president’s actions, they should look in the mirror.
“Last November, when 1,400 Oklahomans had died of COVID, our caucus asked Governor Stitt what his plan was to keep that number from getting to 2,000. Today, 10 months later, more than 8,000 Oklahomans have died, and we are still waiting on a plan from the governor.”