OKLAHOMA CITY — Three persons who have tested positive for the coronavirus COVID-19 in Oklahoma have died as the number of cases has now reached more than 100 in the state, according to the latest figures Tuesday morning from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
A woman in her 60s has died in Cleveland County, south of Oklahoma City, OSDH announced Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Two men, both in their 50s, who tested positive for the virus also have died, one in Tulsa County on March 18, 2020, and one in Pawnee County, OSDH officials announced Sunday, March 22.
Governor Kevin Stitt announced during a press conference Tuesday afternoon that all non-essential businesses in 19 counties must close by the end of Wednesday.
The closures are part of a series of sweeping actions to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the state as the number of cases and deaths continued to tick upward. As of Tuesday afternoon, 106 total cases in addition to three deaths were confirmed.
Stitt also banned all gatherings of 10 or more statewide and ordered all elderly and vulnerable Oklahomans to stay home until April 30. He suspended all elective and non-emergent surgeries.
COVID-19 is a virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, in late-2019. Cases of the virus have since spread globally into a pandemic. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. While roughly 80% of cases report mild symptoms, some progress into severe pneumonia and multi-organ failure that can led to death, according to information on the OSDH website.
"Current data indicates the risk of death for those contracting COVID-19 notably increases for individuals above the age of 60 or for individuals with autoimmune conditions," according to OSDH.
On January 11, 2020, the first set of individuals in the United States tested positive for COVID-19. The virus has since spread across all 50 states, and the number testing positive continues to increase.
There are now 19 counties in the state with residents testing positive for the virus, with none of which have been in Garfield County nor Northwestern Oklahoma. However, the health department has stated all residents should assume COVID-19 is in their communities and take precautions.
New cases include 12 in Oklahoma County, 6 in Cleveland County, 2 in Canadian County and 1 each in Mayes, Noble, Pawnee, Tulsa and Wagoner counties.
Positive tests per county in the state are 41 in Oklahoma County, 22 in Cleveland County, 12 in Tulsa County, 5 in Kay County, 4 each in Canadian and Pawnee counties, 3 in Payne County, 2 each in Garvin, Noble and Washington counties and 1 each in Custer, Grady, Jackson, Logan, Mayes, McClain, Muskogee, Pontotoc and Wagoner counties, according to OSDH information released Sunday morning, March 22, 2020.
There currently are 25 hospitalized who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to OSDH, which reports the ages of patients range from 0 to 91 years old. The department further refined its age range to show the majority of patients, 29, testing positive for COVID-19 are older than 65. There are 2 in the 0-4 range, 26 in the 18-35 range and 23 in the 36-49 range and 26 in the 50-64 range. There have been no reported positive tests in the 5-17 age range, according to OSDH.
Fifty of those testing positive are female and 56 are male.
There have been 735 testing negative for COVID-19.
OSDH no longer is reporting the number of pending PUI's (persons under investigation) now that "there is community spread of COVID-19 in Oklahoma."
"This is largely driven by the high volume of people being tested at labs independent of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Public Health Laboratory. Therefore, we will no longer report daily PUI numbers to prevent causing confusion as we transition to an expanded process of testing for COVID-19 in Oklahoma," according to the OSDH coronavirus COVID-19 website.
On Sunday, March 22, 2020, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced the Governor’s Solution Task Force — a multiagency group of experts and support personnel to enhance Oklahoma’s comprehensive response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Stitt said goals include protecting the health and lives of Oklahomans, mitigating economic impact and initiating a full recovery effort.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma National Guard activated the Joint Task Force at the Oklahoma National Guard Regional Training Institute in Oklahoma City.
Comprised of members of both the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard, that task force is laying groundwork for possible support missions, said Brig. Gen. Tommy Mancino, executive director of the Oklahoma Military Department and the Oklahoma National Guard assistant adjutant general.
“Our guardsmen are planning ahead for future operations we are anticipating the governor may request of us through the lead agency — the Oklahoma State Department of Health,” Mancino said in a released statement. “This planning will ensure when we execute those missions that they are done in the most efficient, timely and best way possible.”
Gary Cox, the state Health Department commissioner, said partnering with the Oklahoma National Guard is critical to getting through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We appreciate the support of the Guard here in Oklahoma. It’s critical to gather information, synthesize that information and get it to us and the governor so good decisions can be made,” Cox said. “It will be critical to get through the COVID-19 pandemic we are experiencing now. It’s most likely going to be a long-term event, so we need all the resources and the help we can get so we are very appreciative of that."
Mancino said the Guard can provide soldiers to deliver critically needed medical supplies.
“One of the things I’ve told my guardsmen is when you're at home to ‘flatten the curve,’ you see a dotted line [on the graph] and that dotted line represents the health care personnel here in Oklahoma, and I’ve told them our No. 1 job is to support that line," Mancino said. "We are going to do everything we can to help the real heroes: our health care workers.”
OSDH continues to support guidelines from the CDC related to social distancing and personal hygiene and encourages Oklahomans to stay home, reduce person-to-person contact, wash hands frequently, and avoid touching faces. 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.
The department announced Friday it had entered into a public-private partnership with Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma (DLO) to increase the state’s capacity for delivering COVID-19 test results, and that more than 300 test specimens were shipped to DLO’s facility in Dallas. The partnership will allow current demand for COVID-19 test results in a two- to three-day time frame, according to OSDH.
The department reported Saturday on its coronavirus website that "results are beginning to come in from the public-private partnership ..."
Tests through the health department’s public health laboratory are considered presumptive until confirmed by the Center for Disease Control.
All test results conducted through the Oklahoma State Department of Health public health laboratory are sent to the ordering physician or submitting facility. Test status or results will not be provided by phone, according to the department's website. Positive test results will prompt an investigating that will attempt to trace the origin of the virus and who has been affected.
The health department reports that testing materials remain in short supply. If test results are positive, public health officials initiate an investigation, which results in notifying the patient and provider to conduct the case investigation and contact tracing procedures.
"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.
The person in Jackson County is an active duty Air Force member at Altus Air Force Base. The person in Cleveland County is a member of the University of Oklahoma "Norman campus community" according to a release from the university.
Officials at OU said the university "will cooperate with Health Department officials in their efforts to track this individual’s recent interactions with others in our community." All those found to be impacted will be notified by the university.
Enid Fire Department and Life EMS crews were self-isolating after responding to a medical call last weekend in which the patient was tested for coronavirus, officials said Monday.
When it was decided to test the man for the coronavirus, Enid Fire Department Chief Joe Jackson said the crew went home to self-isolate until testing was complete.
Jackson said the station and equipment used were sanitized and other personnel were called in to cover the rest of that crew's shift.
The patient's family said Thursday morning, March 19, 2020, that he had been released and tested negative for the virus.
A family from Waller Middle School and families from Vance Air Force Base in Enid also have self-quarantined after returning from a cruise and later learning someone on that same cruise tested positive for the coronavirus COVID-19. No symptoms had been evident as of the weekend, and no know contact with the infected persons on the cruise ship were known.
Enid Public Schools under mandate of the State Department of Education has closed until April 6. The schools were in spring break this week. Some Enid private schools also decided to adopt the OSDE measure and close.
Neither worker is symptomatic of COVID-19.
Gov. Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency in Oklahoma in all 77 counties after confirming the eighth case in Kay County Sunday, March 15, 2020, that was confirmed via private lab.
“I want to encourage all Oklahomans to remain calm and make wise choices based on your health and risk level," Stitt said in a release. "Pay attention to how you are feeling and stay home if you are sick.”
The city of Enid similarly declared a state of emergency on Monday, March 16, canceling all public gatherings of 50-plus and postponing several performances at Stride Bank Center through April 13 due to concerns of the coronavirus.
Businesses have closed public dining areas, resorting to drive-through and delivery exclusively, and organizations have canceled or postponed events planned in the next few weeks.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma increased to 106 as of Tuesday morning, March 24, 2020, more local events were being postponed and businesses were taking steps to protect their customers.
Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce is canceling its April 9 Ambassadors’ meeting and postponing its Enlisted Appreciation Night, which was set for April 25, and the Enid legislative trip to Washington, D.C., in May. The latter two events may be rescheduled at a later date. Additional Enid Chamber meeting and/or event cancellations may be necessary as the COVID-19 emergency remains a fluid situation
"This is an unprecedented and unpredictable time for American citizens and businesses," said Jon Blankenship, Chamber president and CEO. "Obviously, the COVID-19 situation is having a very serious impact on our national, state and regional economy. In a conference call on Monday with Governor Stitt and chamber leaders across the state, the governor indicated that 68 new testing facilities will be set up around the state in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and other stakeholders."
Details on Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest, disaster assistance loans also are evolving, Blankenship said.
A survey to assess the economic impact of COVID-19 to businesses is currently being collected by local and state officials, according to a link on the Oklahoma State Department of Emergency Management. The information will be used to support a request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan declarations from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 as “high” both globally and in the United States.
“While impact in Oklahoma has continued to be relatively minimal to date, it is increasingly important for Oklahoma to be ready for this threat,” Stitt's order reads. “Therefore, I believe, after consultation with numerous health experts within my administration, it is now necessary to provide for the rendering of mutual assistance among the state and political subdivisions of the state and to cooperate with the federal government with respect to carrying out emergency functions during the continuance of the state emergency pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Emergency Management Act.
“The State Emergency Operations Plan has been activated, and resources of all state departments and agencies available to meet this emergency are hereby committed to the reasonable extent necessary to prepare for and respond to COVID-19 and to protect the health and safety of the public. These efforts shall be coordinated by the director of the Department of Emergency Management with comparable functions of the federal government and political subdivisions of the state.”
The state health department's new website dedicated to the coronavirus — https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov — reported the updated numbers Monday morning.
The Oklahoma Capitol closed to the public along with legislative proceedings amid the worsening COVID-19 outbreak and ongoing session, state lawmakers announced Monday.
Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt signed proclamation of a state of emergency in the City of Oklahoma City on Monday due to the discovery of possible COVID-19 community spread in the metro area.
In Cleveland County, Norman mayor Breea Clark declared a city-wide state of emergency Friday afternoon, setting the city on a path toward COVID-19 preparedness.
Due to a recently confirmed case of COVID-19 in Payne County, Mayor Will Joyce has declared a state of emergency in Stillwater in response to the spreading COVID-19 virus.
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