Oklahoma’s rate of new weekly COVID-19 cases is double the national average for the second consecutive week, according to the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force weekly report.
The state’s positivity rate for the most recent week also is double the U.S. average. Oklahoma once again finds itself in the top 5 both for new cases and test positivity rates for the second time in three weeks.
Oklahoma’s new cases per 100,000 population was 201, ranking it No. 5 in the U.S. The national average was 93 per 100,000 people.
The state’s test positivity was 11.8%, ranking it No. 3 in the country. The U.S. average was 4.3%. Oklahoma’s positivity has been double that of the nation the past four weeks.
Nearly half of the counties – 37 – are in the red zone for high levels of spread. Four-fifths – 61 – have at least moderate spread. For the first time since the task force began tracking individual metros and counties on July 14, Tulsa and Tulsa County have ducked out of the red and now are in the orange zone between yellow and red.
The counties in the White House’s red zone in northeast Oklahoma are Adair, Craig, Haskell, Kay, Noble, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Payne, Pittsburg, Rogers and Sequoyah.
The Sept. 27 task force report was released noon Wednesday by the state and comprises data from Sept. 19-25.
“Develop age-segmented and geographic relevant messaging to help Oklahomans protect themselves from COVID-19, including wearing face masks,” the task force states – a departure from a recommendation since June 29 for mask requirements in hot spots or across the state.
The report states that rapid antigen test supplies will be distributed in the coming weeks. It specifically notes that historically black colleges and universities, as well as tribal colleges will receive testing supplies this week.
The report suggests Oklahoma develop a plan for weekly surveillance of critical populations. Specifically, monitoring is suggested for spread among K-12 teachers, staff working in nursing, assisted-living and senior facilities, correctional facilities and first-responders.
“COVID-19 continues to be introduced in nursing homes through community transmission among staff and visitors,” according to the task force. “Decrease introduction of COVID-19 in nursing homes through on-site inspection of infection control practices at skilled nursing facilities.”
Earlier in the day during the weekly Project ECHO session on COVID-19, Dr. Jennifer Clark noted that the county most concerning to her currently is Payne County. She said the county is suffering “significant hospitalizations,” with Stillwater Medical Center in surge capacity and considering possibly pausing elective procedures that require inpatient care.
Clark, a content expert on health care delivery sciences for Project ECHO’s COVID-19 sessions, said there are about 800 active infections in the state prison system with about 3,600 cumulative positive tests. There have been three staff and seven inmate deaths related to the outbreak.
“That outbreak seems to be quieting to some extent even though it’s still quite large, I don’t want to diminish it,” Clark said.
She said nursing homes continue to see growth in disease spread with about 500 active cases in the state. About 40% — or 410 of 1,031 — of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been in nursing home or long-term care facilities.
Clark expressed concern about the number of people ages 65-older being infected by COVID-19, which she said is a reflection of 18-35 year olds passing the virus into older populations.
The 18-35 population has more infections since June than any other demographic.
There have been 2,487 people age 65-older who have contracted COVID-19 since Sept. 10, Clark said. Extrapolating out, there could be close to 4,000 infected by Oct. 10, she said.
That would be a record for a month-long period, which stands at 3,100 from Aug. 10 to Sept. 9. The 10th of each month marks the next monthly cycle because the state first began tracking data in this fashion on April 10.
Clark said that historically in Oklahoma people ages 65-older who contract COVID-19 have a 30% risk of hospitalization and mortality risk that has been as high as 14% to 15%.
The monthly infection high for people ages 18-35 was 8,686 from July 10 to Aug. 9, nearly reached again the following month at 8,646. The latest monthly projection is more than 11,000 by Oct. 10, she said.
Oklahoma's new cases
The numbers signify the weekly rate per 100,000 people. Red zone is 100 and above; yellow zone is 10 to 100
Sept. 27: 201 (93 national average; 5th highest in U.S.)
Sept. 20: 175 (86; 6th)
Sept. 13: 142 (74; 5th)
Sept. 6: 146 (88; 9th)
Aug. 30: 114 (88; 13th)
Aug. 23: 123 (93; 12th)
Aug. 16: 117 (112; 15th)
Aug. 9: 146 (114)
Aug. 2: 186 (137)
July 26: 126 (140)
July 19: 128 (140)
July 14: 102 (119)
July 5: 69 (100)
June 29: 67 (74)
Oklahoma’s test positivity rate
Red zone is 10% and above; yellow zone is 5% to 10%
Sept. 27: 11.8% (4.8% national rate; 3rd highest in U.S.)
Sept. 20: 9.9% (4.4%; 3rd)
Sept. 13: 10.0% (4.8%; 5th)
Sept. 6: 11.3% (5.2%; 4th)
Aug. 30: 9.6% (5.4%; 9th)
Aug. 23: 9.9% (5.8%; 8th)
Aug. 16: 9.4% (6.5%; 11th)
Aug. 9: 9.8% (7.1%)
Aug. 2: 9.8% (8.2%)
July 26: 10.1% (8.5%)
July 19: 9.8% (9.1%)
July 14: 9.7% (9.6%)
July 5: 6.0% (8.3%)
June 29: 5.8% (7.0%)
Each of these reports can be found online at coronavirus.health.ok.gov/white-house-coronavirus-task-force
Source: White House Coronavirus Task Force reports
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