White House: Oklahoma 3rd Worst In Nation For COVID Test Positivity, 6th Worst For New Cases
The latest White House coronavirus task force report for Oklahoma, dated Sunday but released by the state health department Wednesday, shows the state climbing the rankings to have some of the worst numbers in the country for two COVID-19 metrics.
Vice President Mike Pence's task force said Oklahoma ranked 6th in the nation for new infections for the week of Sept. 12-18, with 175 cases per 100,000 residents, more than double the national average of 86 cases per 100,000 residents. The week prior, Oklahoma had been ranked 9th for new cases.
The White House also said Oklahoma had the third highest rate of test positivity in the nation, at 9.9%. The national average for that metric in the same timeframe was 4.4%, the White House said.
In a Wednesday tweet, Gov. Kevin Stitt said that according to a measurement of test positivity developed and reported by Johns Hopkins University, the state has a test positivity rate of 9.1%, and a ranking of 15th worst in the country by that reading.
The White House report says Oklahoma's statewide community testing volumes are "slipping." It says universities should "dramatically increase testing, and encourages students not to return to their hometowns should they contract the disease on campus, a recommendation Stitt shared on Tuesday at a Capitol press conference.
The report says that "ensuring mask utilization statewide will prevent unnecessary transmission and deaths in vulnerable communities," but for the second time in recent weeks does not explicitly call for a statewide mask mandate, which most of the reports from July have called for and which Stitt has rejected as a policy he is not willing to implement.
Twelve localities remain designated red zones, including Tulsa, Muskogee, and Miami.