Tahlequah Mayor Sue Catron has announced that the Crisis Task Force committee will be regrouping due to a surge of local cases.

"The reactivated Crisis Task Force has not met," said Catron. "We have determined that for now, a joint conference call on the first and third Monday of the month prior to each formal [City] Council meeting, will provide us with the most current numbers and status to share with the community."

Officials with Northeastern Health System and Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital have been informed the city will call a supplemental meeting, should the need arise.

The original crisis response team members included Catron, Tahlequah City Council members, Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Mike Underwood, Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King, Compliance Coordinator Ray Hammons, Cherokee County Sheriff Jason Chennault, the three members of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, City Administrator Alan Chapman, Tahlequah Public Works Authority General Manager Mike Doublehead, NHS CEO Brian Woodliff, and Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings CEO Brian Hail.

Catron said not everyone who was involved in the original committee is included in the calls, for now.

"Much of the work of the earlier task force was to identify and attempt to acquire supplies or other support items. The focus with this reactivated task force is to monitor the surge and our ability to manage through that, and to communicate to our residents as things worsen, then improve," she said.

Ward 1 Councilor Bree Long took charge of the original panel, and the mayor said she is already working with Dr. John Galdamez, Cherokee Elder Care executive medical director, internal medicine.

Because the vaccine is available in Tahlequah, the city is not, at this point, considering a lockdown or enforcing a new mask mandate, said Catron. The Economic Recovery Task Force committee has not regrouped.

According to the Friday, July 23, Oklahoma State Department of Health advisory, there have been 471,176 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Oklahoma. OSDH hasn't updated the number of county cases since Wednesday, July 21. Overall, 1,194 new cases were reported Friday across the state.

Of the total cases, the OSDH reported July 23 there were 7,302 active cases, and 453,287 people had recovered.

On July 23, Cherokee County was listed by the OSDH as having a total of 5,838 positive cases since the pandemic started. Of these, 79 residents have died, and 5,681 have recovered. The Cherokee County Health Department supplied those figures, which the state hasn't updated since Wednesday afternoon.

As of July 23, the state reported 3,370,735 total doses of vaccine have been administered, with 1,566,238 series complete.

Residents can register online at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov to receive a notification when they are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, or visit vaccinefinder.org for other opportunities. For more information, visit https://oklahoma.gov/covid19.html.

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