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Oklahoma Has First Confirmed Case of Coronavirus Infection

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Oklahoma has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

A Tulsa County man in his 50s who recently traveled to Italy tested positive for the virus.

"Italy, as you know, is the level 3 travel health notice country and currently has widespread, sustained transmission of COVID-19," said Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

Officials said the man returned from Italy through Tulsa International Airport on Feb. 23, then developed symptoms and contacted his doctor Feb. 29.

The man and his family are in isolation at his home and is in stable conditon. Health officials are not testing other people he may have been in contact with at this time.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said with one case, the city will not be cancelling any events, but Tulsans should remain calm and practice prevention, both for COVID-19 and for other illnesses going around.

"We all should avoid contact with sick individuals. We should wash our hands frequently. If we are sick, we should stay home," Bynum said.

Officials said healthy people should not buy masks, which are needed for health care workers, and those who believe they have the illness should contact a medical professional before going to a hospital.

The man was the sixth Oklahoman under investigation for COVID-19. Five previous tests had come back negative. All tests had to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

State Health Commissioner Gary Cox said Oklahoma now has the supplies needed to run its own tests, and two private labs will be able to pitch in as well, shortening the turnaround time.

"We hope to have them, for example, if we sent a test over tonight, we would hope to have results back before midnight," Cox said.

The Tulsa Health Department has set up a dedicated phone line to answer questions people may have about the coronavirus at a 918-595-9355.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.