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COVID-19: Spike in new cases continues Tuesday, as Oklahoma reports another new high

COVID-19: Spike in new cases continues Tuesday, as Oklahoma reports another new high

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Correction: This story incorrectly reported the total for the new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday in Tulsa County. The correct number is 76. This story has been corrected.

Tuesday marked the highest single-day total yet in new COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma.

That count came on the heels of successive days in which the deadly disease has far exceeded peaks in April and on the lead up-to significant political activity in downtown Tulsa.

Tulsa County has the highest number (1,729) of confirmed cases of any county in the state, despite having a population more than 20% smaller than Oklahoma County, the state’s most populous county, which has reported 1,673 cases.

Tulsa County also reported its highest seven-day rolling average, 66.9 new cases, since the pandemic began, according to the Tulsa County Health Department’s website.

State health officials reported 228 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday in Oklahoma, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Four more people died, including two in Tulsa County. There have been a total of 363 deaths and 8,645 infections since March in Oklahoma.

As questions mounted about whether the city would act to stop President Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday in downtown Tulsa, Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a Facebook post Tuesday that he will not exercise his authority to halt mass gatherings.

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“That authority was used earlier this year under extraordinary circumstances to prevent the catastrophic collapse of our local health care system,” Bynum said. “Today, that system’s capacity is strong.”

While the daily count in Tulsa County did not set another record, the spike was among the highest since the pandemic began, at 76 newly confirmed cases.

Trump has scheduled a campaign rally for 7 p.m. Saturday at the BOK Center. Doors open at 3 p.m. for an event the campaign said has generated 1 million requests for tickets.

Various groups who have sustained protests nationally against police violence and race-based inequalities are scheduled to stage counter-rallies.

Trump supporters, who were gathering outside of the BOK Center on Tuesday, said they had no fear of the virus. James Massery said he did not worry about COVID-19, a sentiment shared among others there.

“Whether or not I get it, it doesn’t bother me in the least,” said Massery, who is from Preston, a small community about 30 miles from Tulsa. “If I get it, I’ll deal with it ... if it takes me out, it’s just going to make me mad that I can’t vote for Trump in this coming election.”

Health officials recorded 89 new cases Monday in Tulsa County. The state’s rolling 7-day average, as of Tuesday, was at 183, according to OSDH data. It’s the highest statewide seven-day average to date.

Darryl Henry, who was also camping out for the rally, said one must “fear not.”

“We’ve paid enough sacrifices, we’ve taken enough precautions, and let’s get back to it,” Henry said. “Let’s get back to opening our country.”

Marq Lewis, a community activist with We the People Oklahoma, said social distancing will be impossible.

Lewis said he has not planned to demonstrate on Saturday due to the looming threat of COVID-19.

“I get it; the mission is bigger than what’s ahead of us,” Lewis said. “I think many African Americans feel that.”

Lewis said there’s a stark difference between an ideological campaign rally and what he referred to as the mission: pushing for police reforms.

“I’m hoping we get through this, this coronavirus,” he said. “I’m hoping local government will get to a place to better their Police Department.

“We can no longer allow just lip service.”

In an online letter sent to Bynum on Monday, 500 health care professionals in Tulsa and Oklahoma asked him to issue a moratorium for large-scale indoor events. Dr. Bruce Dart, the Tulsa Health Department director, has been imploring public officials since at least Saturday to postpone the rally.

Public health officials started recommending in early April that people wear cloth face coverings to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The recommendation is not to prevent the wearer from contracting the virus but to help prevent the wearer from unknowingly spreading it.

In Bynum’s Facebook post Tuesday, the mayor said that the Trump campaign has indicated it will take health precautions at the rally: “Every attendee will have to pass a temperature check before they can enter the facility. Every attendee will be provided with a mask. Every attendee will have access to hand sanitizer stations.”

COVID-19 has an incubation period of two days to two weeks, during which time a person may be contagious but not have symptoms.

Social distancing means staying out of group or congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others.

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