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Oklahoma nonprofit organizer: Mayors forced to step up in states with less stringent social-distancing orders

The executive director of the Oklahoma-based nonprofit Take Control Initiative, which works to improve access to contraception, said Monday that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) less-strict social distancing order in relation to the coronavirus pandemic has led to inconsistencies in rural and urban communities’ approach, leaving mayors to step up on the issue.

Laura Bellis, who also organizes with the group Save Our State, which is urging Stitt to implement a full stay-at-home order, saying in a Hill.TV interview that the current policy is "more of a recommendation," with Stitt ordering non-essential businesses to close but using a “very long” list of essential businesses and allowing firms to apply to be added to it.

Asked by host Saager Enjeti how well Oklahomans were complying, Bellis responded that it “very much varies based on what communities you’re in.”

“I think in our urban centers you may see a little less activity because those mayors and city councils and county commissioners have issued actual stay-at-home and shelter in place orders,” she said, “and in our rural communities, from what I’m seeing and being sent pictures and videos of, they’re going about life as normal, which of course is concerning given our under-resourced health system.”

Asked by host Krystal Ball whether early downplaying of the virus by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE and some conservative media figures could have led to a partisan split in how seriously Americans take the threat, Bellis said, “I think that’s a contributing factor, and then also our governor himself hasn’t taken this as seriously as he should,” saying Stitt has shown “a certain levity about this that wasn’t appropriate.”

In mid-March, Stitt faced bipartisan criticism when his office said he "will continue to take his family out to dinner" even after declaring a state of emergency over the coronavirus.