Tulsa County’s skyrocketing COVID-19 cases so far are driven by younger people returning to normal activities amid atypical circumstances.
Dr. Bruce Dart, executive director of the Tulsa Health Department, during a Wednesday news conference presented sobering data.
“What we are seeing in the case spike could be a precursor because in the last week we have not yet seen an increase in deaths; we have seen an increase in hospitalizations,” Dart said. “While the risk of severe complications is lower for younger people, they can spread it to those more vulnerable like their parents or any immunocompromised friends.”
Tulsa County’s new cases the week of June 14-20 climbed by 92%, of which 40% were in the age 18-35 demographic. The 18-35 demographic itself saw an increase of nearly 90%.
The second largest age demographic to have new cases was 36-49, representing 20%.
Hospitalizations in the 18-35 age group, which represent one-quarter of all COVID-19 hospitalizations in Tulsa County, leaped 133% over the previous week.
There were 59 COVID-19 inpatients June 20-21 in Tulsa County — the high so far since the pandemic began. The prior peak was 44 on April 2. Most recently, it was 55 on Monday.
Dart said the majority of new cases are traced back to routine aspects of life: weddings, funerals, faith-based activities, bars, gyms, house gatherings and other small events — otherwise dubbed as the “serious seven” by Oklahoma City health officials and co-opted by their counterparts in Tulsa.
He said people ages 18-49 are more likely than ever to be carrying the virus throughout the community because they are the most mobile demographic.
“If you are in this demographic, you may think you’re invincible,” Dart said. “Right now more than half of all hospitalizations are for people under the age of 50.”
It’s too soon to know the public health outcome of Trump’s rally in Tulsa, but Dart recommends anyone who attends large gatherings to be tested at least five to seven days after the event. The disease’s incubation period is two to 14 days, he said, and asymptotic people prior to testing could unknowingly spread it.
Dart said his department understands people have concerns about what a 14-day quarantine might look like or how it affects financial stability.
“We are here to answer your questions, provide documentation for your employer, and ensure that you are doing the right thing to protect yourself and to protect others.”
Hospitals encourage social distancing, testing
Hillcrest HealthCare System, OSU Medicine and Saint Francis Health System recently put out a joint statement encouraging northeast Oklahoma residents to practice social distancing as cases rise.
• If possible, maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
• Cloth masks are recommended in public, especially when distancing is difficult. To be effective, the mask should fit snugly over your nose and mouth.
• Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Wash your hands frequently throughout the day with soap and water. If soap isn’t available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• OSU Medicine: 918-599-5300
• Saint Francis Health System/Warren Clinic: 918-502-9700
• Tulsa Health Department: 918-582-9355
• Utica Park Clinic: 918-574-0920
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