ENID, Okla. — Another 15 deaths related to the coronavirus COVID-19 in Oklahoma were confirmed Wednesday, April 15, 2020, by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Less than a week out from the state's forecasted April 21 peak in COVID-19 cases, the total number of deaths stands at 123, with an additional 79 cases, a 3.6% increase, confirmed by OSDH Wednesday.
The number of cases reported Wednesday in the state is 2,263 since the first case was detected on March 6, 2020, according to OSDH. Of those cases, 510 have been hospitalized overall, with 179 currently hospitalized, 107 of whom are in intensive care.
As of Tuesday, April 14, 1,155, or 52.9% have recovered. Nearly 27,000 of more than 29,000 tests dating back to February have been negative.
At the peak, the state Department of Health’s model predicts 915 hospitalizations and 458 Oklahomans in ICU beds. By May 1, the forecast predicts 9,300 Oklahomans will have tested positive for COVID-19 with 469 deaths.
There were no changes in the number of cases in Northwest Oklahoma. Garfield County remained at 7 cases, Kingfisher at 6 cases, Grant and Major counties at 2 cases each and Alfalfa and Woodward counties at one case each.
There have been two deaths in Northwest Oklahoma, an 86-year-old woman in Garfield County and a woman in the 18-35 age group in Major County.
OSDH also reported on an executive report dated Tuesday, April 14, one case of COVID-19 at First Shamrock Care Center in Kingfisher and another case involving Major County.
Maggie Jackson, OSDH regional director of community engagement and health planning, clarified late Wednesday afternoon that the OSDH executive report lists the resident county of a person residing in or staff member who works at a longterm care or nursing facility. The Major County woman in the 18-35 age group who tested positive for COVID-19 and has since died had worked at a nursing home facility in Dewey County, she said.
There were no official cases of COVID-19 in a longterm care or nursing home facility in Major County as of Wednesday afternoon, Jackson said.
Jackson said the woman lived in Major County, which is why it is listed as a county associated with a longterm care or nursing home COVID-19 case.
The list of facilities on the report does not include a Major County facility, but it does include Seiling Nursing Center, where COVID-19 was contracted by two staff members, one of whom has died, according to OSDH. Administrators with Seiling Nursing Center could not be immediately reached for comment.
Of the 15 deaths reported Wednesday by OSDH four occurred in the last 24 hours while 11 died between April 3-13, according to OSDH. Twelve were older than 65 — three men in Oklahoma County; two men in Wagoner County; men in Tulsa, Cleveland, and Grady counties; and women in Tulsa, Washington, Rogers and Caddo counties — two were in the 18-35 age group — a woman in Washington County and a man in Texas County — and one was in the 50-64 age group — a woman in Adair County.
Of the state's 123 deaths, 100 have been older than 65, 15 have been ages 50 to 64, 3 have been ages 36-49 and 5 have been ages 18-35, according to OSDH. More men, 67 or 54.5%, than women 56 50 or 45.5%, have died. The median age of deaths is 73, according to OSDH.
Deaths have been reported in 28 counties: Adair, Caddo, Canadian, Cherokee, Cleveland, Creek, Garfield, Grady, Greer, Kay, Latimer, Major, Mayes, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Osage, Pawnee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Seminole, Sequoyah, Stevens, Tulsa, Texas, Wagoner and Washington, OSDH reports.
OSDH has recorded positive COVID-19 tests in 64 of Oklahoma's 77 counties.
Ages of patients with COVID-19 range from 0 to 102 years old, with a median range of 56. There have been 21 cases in the 0-4 age group, 39 in the 5-17 age group, 402 in the 18-35 age group, 466 in the 36-49 age group, 580 in the 50-64 age group and 755 in the 65 and older age group, according to OSDH. Of those testing positive, 1,247, or 55.1%, are women and 1,016, or 44.9%, are men.
Positive tests recorded per county in the state are 483 in Oklahoma County; 362 in Tulsa County; 294 in Cleveland County; 118 in Washington County; 102 in Wagoner County; 72 in Delaware County; 63 in Canadian County; 57 in Creek County; 61 in Osage County; 52 in Comanche County; 50 in Greer County; 45 in Kay County; 35 in Caddo County; 30 in Rogers County; 29 in Adair and Payne counties; 28 in Pottawatomie County; 27 in Pawnee County; 26 in Muskogee County; 22 in Ottawa County; 21 in Cherokee County; 19 in McClain County; 16 in Mayes County; 15 in Stephens County; 14 each in Grady and Okmulgee County; 13 in Pittsburg; 11 in Nowata County; 10 each in Garvin, Lincoln, Pontotoc and Sequoyah counties; 9 in Texas County; 8 in Craig County; 7 each in Custer, Garfield, Logan, McCurtain and Seminole counties; 6 each in Jackson, Kingfisher and Noble and counties; 5 each in Bryan and Cotton counties; 4 each in Latimer and LeFlore counties; 3 in Choctaw County; 2 each in Beckham, Dewey, Grant, Johnston, Kiowa, Love and Major counties; and 1 each in Alfalfa, Atoka, Beaver, Carter, Jefferson, Marshall, Murray, Okfuskee, Tillman and Woodward counties, according to OSDH information released Wednesday morning.
There have been 293 Oklahomans who have tested positive for the virus through the State Public Health Laboratory, 386 at Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma and 1,584 at other laboratories, according to OSDH.
Integris Bass Baptist Health Center in Enid reported Wednesday, April 15, it is treating one patient who has tested positive for COVID-19 and reported Monday, April 13, that one had been released. St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Enid initially reported one patient on March 29 but is declining to announce any further information regarding COVID-19 patients. OSDH officials say they do not have information in place yet concerning rural Oklahoma hospitals.
Both hospitals recently released statements to the News & Eagle Tuesday, April 14, urging people to seek emergency room care when needed but to use tele-health resources when possible to limit exposure to COVID-19 or influenza.
Both hospitals stressed extra precautions are being taken during the pandemic to protect patients, and emergency departments remain a safe place to come for emergency medical care.
"If you are having symptoms that could possibly be an indicator of a medical emergency, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, trouble lifting your arms and weakness, please visit your nearest emergency department," said Dr. Michael Pontious, M.D. "Heart attacks and strokes don’t stop during a pandemic, so if you are experiencing these symptoms, please don’t delay in seeking emergent care — just like you would have done before COVID-19.”
Those developing symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath or cough should contact their medical professionals or call the COVID-19 Call Center at (877) 215-8336 or 211 for assistance.
"Patients are encouraged to consult their physician or public health professional about their symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Clinicians may recommend testing for other respiratory illnesses, including flu, before recommending a COVID-19 test," according to the OSDH website. Those who are uninsured an call 211 for community resources.
Garfield County Health Department
Garfield County Health Department cannot release information concerning those in the county who have COVID-19, due to state and federal privacy requirements, said Maggie Jackson, OSDH regional director of community engagement and health planning.
Garfield County Health Department officials reported Wednesday, April 8, that none of the 98 tests taken during a drive-through clinic in Enid Friday, April 3, tested positive for the virus.
Health department officials are in contact with those residents who are confirmed positive to monitor their health and advise them concerning the virus, Jackson said.
"We investigate potential contacts and advise them on isolation and reducing the risk of infecting others," she said, adding the Garfield County Health Department and its partners are "committed to doing all we can to protect the community."
"We are working with our partners to facilitate further testing, educating the public how to reduce the risk of infection and transmission, facilitating dissemination of limited PPE and advocating for each individual to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19," Jackson said.
Several business and organizations in Enid have closed to the public in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Local health and emergency officials are urging residents to stay in their homes or isolated as much as possible. Some exceptions include grocery shopping, health appointments or essential work.
Northwest Oklahoma testing
Drive-through testing is being conducted by appointment only for Blaine County, 521 W. 4th, Watonga, (580) 623-7977; Garfield County, 2501 S. Mercer, Enid, (580) 233-0650; Grant County, 115 N. Main, Medford, (580) 395-2906; Kingfisher County, 124 E. Sheridan, courthouse annex room #101, Kingfisher, (405) 375-3008; Major County, 501 E. Broadway, Fairview, (580) 227-3362; Noble County, 300 Fir St., Perry, (580) 336-2257; Woods County, 511 Barnes St., Alva, (580) 327-3192; and Woodward County, 1631 Texas Ave., Woodward, (580) 256-6416. For a full list of county drive-through testing, go to https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/drive-thru-testing. Some health department also advise the public to check their Facebook pages for more information regarding testing.
OSDH on Wednesday, April 15, reported a partnership with the Chickasaw Nation for drive-through testing sites at their clinics in Purcell, Ada and Ardmore. Testing is available to the public. A valid photo is required and minors must be accompanied by an adult. A medical referral is preferred but not required. This partnership helps record data from those tested while working jointly to to educate the public, according to OSDH.
Those with symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, shortness of breath and coughing, should call ahead to local emergency rooms. Those with minor symptoms should contact their regular physicians.
Pursuant to Governor Stitt issuing a catastrophic health emergency Thursday, April 2, 2020, the state health department said it will continue reporting numbers "and ultimately notify first responders if the address they are responding to corresponds to an address of a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19."
In order to comply with state and federal privacy requirements, the patient's name will stay protected.
OSDH is working with the Office of Emergency Management to channel the information to the 911 dispatch system through processes already in place.
In addition to county health departments operating testing sites, OSDH's central warehouse is operating seven days a week to address emergency personal protective equipment (PPE) and to meet supply needs of medical system providers, local health departments, emergency management and first responders.
Warehouse operations involve the efforts of OSDH staff, Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers, Regional Medical Response System and Oklahoma Department of Forestry drivers who are moving equipment from the federal Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and incoming supplies ordered by the state "to support the needs of frontline workers in Oklahoma," according to an OSDH update on Sunday, April 5, 2020.
The Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps (OKMRC) is recruiting volunteers to serve in medical and non-medical positions, in anticipation of a medical surge and prolonged response to the coronavirus pandemic.
OKMRC volunteer services focus on medical services and healthcare, but you "do not need to be trained in a healthcare field to contribute to the mission,” according to the OKMRC website.
OKMRC utilizes volunteer team members with expertise in areas including:
• Practicing and retired medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, pharmacists, hospital-based workers, nurses' assistants, veterinarians, dentists, and others with health/medical training.
• Retired and working professionals in the fields of public health.
• Community citizens without medical training who can assist the primary health teams with administrative services, communications, record-keeping, and many other essential support functions.
"As an MRC volunteer, you'll become informed about and oriented to your community's emergency procedures, trauma response techniques, use of specialized equipment, and other information that increases your effectiveness as a member of the team,” according to the website.
Training is provided for all volunteers, and volunteers must submit to a background check.
State and local emergency orders
All 77 of Oklahoma's counties fall under Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's "Safer at Home" order until April 30 that bans gatherings in groups larger than 10 and calls for people older than 65 and those with a compromised immune system stay home. Individuals who need to undertake essential errands, such as grocery shopping and picking up medication, may do so.
Law enforcement in some cities, including Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman, have been asked to enforce the governor's order and shelter-in-place policies, according to OSDH.
Resources and information on COVID-19 can be obtained by calling 211 or going to https://covidresources.ok.gov/.
On March 27, Enid Mayor George Pankonin signed an amended emergency declaration that took effect the night of March 28, including a stay-at-home order, closure of non-essential businesses and closure of city of Enid facilities. The next day the first positive test was reported in Garfield County.
"I anticipated that a positive test result was imminent, so I upgraded our Emergency Declaration on Friday," Pankonin said March 29 after being notified about the Garfield County case. “Now that we have in fact had a positive test result, I will review our current declaration to determine if more should be done to proactively protect the public and amend the proclamation as necessary. I will meet with health care experts, city staff and other leaders (Monday) and make changes as necessary.”
In a March 28 Facebook post, Enid Police Department said citizens will benefit from voluntarily complying with the rules set out by the city’s emergency declaration, the governor’s executive orders and the president’s coronavirus guidelines for America.
“While it is true that the Enid Police Department has the authority to enforce these rules, we are asking for everyone to pull together and take the necessary precautions,” EPD posted. “We all, every citizen in Enid and Garfield County, want the same thing and it can only happen if we work together.”
A local bar owner recently was fined for violating the city of Enid's emergency management plan in response to the COVID-19 health emergency. Enid police say they are asking businesses and residents to abide by the declaration. An EPD spokesman said Monday, April 13, that incident there have been no issues with city residents following the proclamation.
Law enforcement with Garfield County and North Enid also reported they had seen no issues.
On March 19, Garfield County commissioners passed an emergency declaration for public access to the Garfield County Court House and all other Garfield County facilities.
“We have taken precautions at the jail by limiting public access and screening the jailers and new arrestees,” Sheriff Jody Helm said Sunday. “Luckily, we don’t have any sickness at the jail as of right now. The jail has K95 masks and surgical masks and are disinfecting routinely. The Sheriff’s Office has done the same as far as limiting access along with disinfecting, we are still answering calls but are following social distancing when possible while using masks.
“It was inevitable that Garfield County would get COVID-19 at some point, and It seems Garfield County Is doing a good job taking this seriously. Keep all first responders and medical staff in your thoughts and prayers because they are the heroes in this difficult time.”
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