Thirty-five of 42 Tulsa County ZIP codes are red for “severe and uncontrolled” COVID-19 spread on the latest Tulsa Health Department map, updated Friday. The number was 22 a week ago.
Red signifies that outbreaks are present and worsening, with contact tracing capacity strained or exceeded, according to the Tulsa Health Department. The map shows the other seven ZIP codes in the county as orange, which means a high risk with high levels of transmission.
THD Executive Director Bruce Dart noted during a Thursday news conference that the agency encourages people to stay home if their ZIP code is red.
“I actually saw a meme this week that showed the virus visibly circulating in the air and asked, ‘Would you go out if you could see this?’” Dart said. “The virus is circulating everywhere, and if you could see it, I think many people would understand that this is real and this is the enemy and this is what we’re fighting against.”
Dart said the county last week surpassed the 4% mark for how many of its residents have tested positive for COVID-19, or about 26,000 people.
The county’s seven-day rolling average of new cases was at 394 on Thursday and rose to a record 414 on Friday.
“If this trend continues, we will surpass 5% of the population testing positive within 11 days,” Dart said Thursday. “Five percent is around 32,500 people.”
For perspective, Dart said, Tulsa County reached 1% on July 20, 2% on Aug. 28, 3% on Oct. 13, and 4% on Nov. 12.
“This means it’s only taking a few weeks now to increase our percentage of people who have tested positive,” he said, adding that more than 2,000 Tulsa County residents have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The outlook isn’t any better statewide.
Dr. Dale Bratzler, the University of Oklahoma’s COVID chief, noted on Friday “very dramatic increases” in rural transmission of the virus with some areas experiencing one-third of their entire caseload since the pandemic began within the past week.
The state’s seven-day rolling average of new daily cases hit a record 2,843 on Friday after 2,921 cases were reported the same day.
“If you look at our total counts for the week, it’s actually pretty scary,” Bratzler said. “We’re just under 20,000 new cases in Oklahoma this one week. And 110 Oklahomans have lost their lives this week.”
As of Friday, the seven-day rolling average of new daily hospitalizations hit a record 130, with 184 reported on Friday. The single-day record was 206 reported Wednesday.
Oklahoma set a record 1,434 COVID-19 hospitalizations in a Tuesday report, and a record 447 of those patients were in intensive-care.
“Many of my colleagues now feel that we’re almost inevitably going to overload the hospitals in Oklahoma in the relatively near future,” Bratzler said. “Just consider the fact that we had 20,000 new cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma in the past seven days, and typically 10 to 12% of the people who test positive end up in the hospital.
“So we could see an additional 2,000 people in the hospital over the next week or so.”
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