In a week in which Oklahoma’s daily COVID-19 new-case count hit its highest mark of the entire pandemic, infections were on the rise last week in every single community in the Tulsa metro area, data show.
Seventy-two new infections were reported for the city of Sand Springs, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shared last week by City Manager Mike Carter’s office, bringing the city’s active case total to 207 and its pandemic total to 5,828 confirmed cases.
The nine other municipalities in the metro area — Bixby, Broken Arrow, Collinsville, Glenpool, Jenks, Owasso, Sapulpa, Skiatook and Tulsa — all reported double- or triple-digit increases in new COVID infections.
Three cities reported current infection rates greater than 1% — Sand Springs at 1.04%, Skiatook at 1.22% and Collinsville at 1.57%, the data show.
COVID-19-related deaths also increased in seven of the 10 municipalities, although Sand Springs was not one of them, the Health Department reported.
The city’s pandemic death toll stands at 109 for the sixth week in a row, the data indicate.
According to the state, Sand Springs has not recorded a COVID-related death since Dec. 1.
The city’s current “death percentage of infected” — meaning how many infected people go on to die of COVID — is 1.87%, the lowest rate it has been in at least two months.
But even using that conservative rate, with the 190 new infections the state has reported for the city since Nov. 19 — when the state resumed reporting data by municipality after a multiweek gap — Sand Springs should have recorded three to four deaths in that time, statistically speaking.
The disparity might be explained by the virus’ surging omicron variant, which experts say seems to cause less-severe illness and result in fewer deaths.
That variant now is accounting for well more than half of the infections in Oklahoma.
However, no other municipalities in the Tulsa metro area have gone six weeks without the state’s having reported a death there.
Sand Springs’ total infection rate — meaning the number of residents who have ever tested positive for COVID-19 — is 29.29%, the data show, meaning nearly one in three residents has been infected with COVID.
Only two Tulsa-area municipalities are worse off — Skiatook, at 37.12%, and Collinsville, at 58.14%, the data show.
Across Oklahoma, 39,051 active COVID cases were reported Friday, which Dr. Dale Bratzler, the University of Oklahoma’s chief COVID officer, described as a “gross underestimation” of how many in the state are actually infected.
Multiply that figure by three — so 117,153 — for a better but still conservative estimate of how many Oklahomans are infected, he said.
That translates to two or three individuals out of every roughly 100 people a person encounters being infected, Bratzler said.
“You just have to assume in any setting where you’re around people — particularly people you don’t know — that some of those people will be infected and take appropriate precautions,” he said.
Health officials continue to say vaccination against the virus that causes COVID-19 is far and away the best prevention against serious illness, hospitalization and death.
But there are proven ways to prevent contracting the virus regardless of vaccination status, they say, including wearing a mask indoors in public and/or when unable to socially distance from others; keeping a safe distance from other people whenever possible; and washing your hands with soap or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly.
Tulsa World Staff Writer Corey Jones contributed to this story.