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Data issue causes case reporting problems, delay

New information provided during last-minute Tuesday press briefing

By Traci Chapman

During a last-minute press conference Tuesday afternoon, state officials gave an update concerning Oklahoma COVID-19 case data over the last few days.

Recently reported numbers revised Tuesday

Interim health commissioner Lance Frye reported Oklahoma had 894 new cases reported overnight; there is also a backlog of 820 positive cases not yet reported publicly due to a data issue experienced by Oklahoma State Department of Health. Those numbers should be updated on the OSDH website in a few days, Frye said.

“Due to technical data entry issues, case counts for Sunday, July 19 and Monday, July 20, are low and do not reflect real-time data. OSDH’s Acute Disease Service is working diligently to resolve these technical issues and will continue to provide reporting of COVID-19 information that Oklahomans have come to expect from OSDH,” officials advised in a Monday release. “In the meantime, Oklahomans who receive a positive test result through a State lab will continue to be promptly notified and connected to contract tracing efforts.”

OSDH Sunday and Monday reported 209 and 168, respectively, with a lone death included in Monday’s total.

Tuesday, the time came and went for release of numbers as usual, that data generally updated right around 11 a.m. Just after 2 p.m., the department reached out to media to advise of a 2:30 p.m. briefing.

Gov. Kevin Stitt advised July 15 he tested positive for COVID-19, the first state governor in the country to be diagnosed with the virus. The governor said during the Tuesday press conference he was feeling fine, “really good like a lot of Oklahomans.”

“I would obviously never miss work with this – a couple of days ago I had a little stuffiness in my head, Stitt said. “I didn’t have classic conditions but…took precautions, wore a mask, stayed six feet away from people, got the test.

“We realize our actions impact our neighbors,” the governor said. “We have to be more aware of our surroundings.”

Stitt said Tuesday contact tracing so far determined no one he was in contact with Saturday tested positive for the virus.

Several other things concerning COVID-19 did occur in the last week:

  • Mustang Public School District officially approved its plans for the upcoming school year, set to begin Aug. 14 – offering a plan that allows students to choose traditional in person classes or 100% remote learning; high school students may blend the two. Regardless, the bulk of the district’s 12,000-plus students, those attending 5th through 12th grade, will wear masks, as will all district teachers, staff and school site visitors.
  • The Class of 2020 Mustang High School graduation ceremony continues on track, set for Saturday. Administrators imposed limitations on the number of guests students may have and anyone attending must wear a mask. The ceremony will stream live.
  • Several Oklahoma communities – including Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa – have instituted mandates requiring face coverings in public.
  • As of Monday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 28 of 50 states now have statewide mask requirements. Among those who do not are some of the currently hardest hit – Florida, south Carolina, Arizona and Oklahoma. Texas is under a statewide face covering mandate.

Changing recommendations

For many of those individuals stating disagreement on social media with face mask mandates – or wearing face coverings at all – the issue appears to be changing recommendations from CDC and the World Health Organization. Data going back to March, even February, is posted routinely as an argument that experts themselves said masks would not work.

The issue, those experts now say? The novel coronavirus is – as its name implies – a new, never before seen strain, one that is frequently mutating and changing. In August, those studying and trying to prevent its spread know much more about it than they did in January or the months that followed, CDC Robert Redfield said.

In fact, Redfield last week told the Journal of the American Medical Association that the country could “get the pandemic under control” in a few months if everyone wore a mask religiously while in public.

“The time is now,” he stated in that interview. “I think if we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control.”

According to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking international COVID-19 cases and is the source utilized by the state department of health in its national data, the first case of the coronavirus in this country was reported Jan. 21; since that time, 3,850,134 positive cases have been confirmed nationwide and 141,158 Americans have died as a result.

The United States country with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world – followed by Brazil, which currently has 1.8 million less cases. According to Johns Hopkins, India currently has 1.155 million positive cases.

Other changes

State health department data also revealed some other changes concerning to medical experts – trends seen throughout the country, they said. While the vast majority of patients dying from COVID-19 continue to be older residents in the 50 to 64 and 65-plus age groups, several new reports of younger patients have begun to populate OSDH reports. A 13-year-old in Lawton recently succumbed to the virus; seven and 14 adults in the 18-35 and 36-49 age ranges, respectively, have now died as a result of COVID-19.

Mustang Times will provide more information in a separate story Wednesday, as we collate data not available until now (2:49 p.m.).




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