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Proportion Of County COVID Cases Coming From Broken Arrow Increasing: Health Department

Chris Polansky
Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith (left) and Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart look on as Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum takes questions during a press conference at Tulsa Police headquarters on Thurs., Aug. 20th.

The city of Broken Arrow's share of COVID-19 cases relative to the Tulsa County total is increasing, a trend possibly related to its lack of a mask mandate, according to the Tulsa Health Department.

At a Thursday press conference at Tulsa Police headquarters, Dr. Bruce Dart, the health department's director, described the trend.

"The portion of Broken Arrow that is within Tulsa County represents over 16% of all Tulsa County cases," Dart said. "This has been an increasing trend for several weeks. Broken Arrow cases make up larger and larger portions of Tulsa County cases." (According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimate data provided by INCOG, Broken Arrow residents make up 13.8% of Tulsa County's total population.)

Dart said a reason or reasons for the increase couldn't be definitively stated.

"We know that we have guidance in Tulsa that [we] ask people to follow around masking out in public, which we know mitigates that spread," Dart said. "That same guidance does not exist in Broken Arrow. We could attribute it to that, but there's a variety of things."

"What's going on in the environment, if there are large events -- and those are things that we track -- we haven't seen anything significant from a community perspective that might add to that, so that's why I'm talking about masks. Now, school's starting, so we'll see if things change after that," Dart said. 

"I'll be honest: Right now, transmission has everything to do with human behavior, and that's what we're trying to change so we can mitigate transmission. This is one of the tools that we use to hopefully direct human behavior toward mitigation," Dart said, pointing to his facemask. 

Dart gave credit to the mask ordinance passed by the Tulsa City Council and signed by Mayor G.T. Bynum in July for a 28% week-over-week decrease of new infections in Tulsa County last week. 

Broken Arrow Public Schools Superintendent Janet Vinson announced last Tuesday that 33 employees had already tested positive before the district even welcomed students back for in-person learning, which they still plan to do on Sept. 3rd.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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