Task force: Oklahoma among worst in nation

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt removes his mask before speaking at a news conference Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Oklahoma City. Stitt said again that he will not issue a statewide mask mandate, despite a recommendation from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

By KEN MILLER Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma remains among the worst states in the United States for positive coronavirus tests per 100,000 people and the number of new reported cases, according to a report released this week by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Oklahoma is in the red zone for virus cases, meaning 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population, with a rate of 201 new cases per 100,000, an increase of 15% from a week ago, according to the federal report dated Sept. 27 and released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The report recommends increased testing to identify those with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and to isolate those infected to limit the spread of the virus.


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“Abbott BinaxNOW supplies (a rapid test for the virus) will be distributed in the coming weeks; develop (a) plan for weekly surveillance in critical populations to monitor the degree of community spread among K-12 teachers; staff working at nursing homes, assisted living, senior living facilities, and other congregate living settings including correctional facilities; and first responders,” according to the recommendations.

It also calls for better messaging to help residents protect themselves, including the wearing of face masks.

The report does not call for, as it has in many recent weeks, a statewide mask mandate, which Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he will not implement.

Stitt has also questioned the task force’s numbers and referred to a Johns Hopkins University report that currently lists Oklahoma as 14th in the nation in positive virus cases, but sixth in the number of new cases, with 14,905 during the past 14 days.

The number of reported coronavirus cases in the state increased by 980 on Wednesday and there were 13 additional deaths due to COVID-19, the health department said.

The department reported 87,199 total cases and 1,031 deaths compared to 86,219 cases and 1.018 deaths on Tuesday. The actual number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

There are 13,068 active cases in the state and 73,100 people have recovered, the department said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.


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