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4,741 New COVID Cases Shatters Record; Officials 'Monitoring' But Taking No Action Now


The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Saturday 4,741 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 136,492.

Saturday's new cases more than doubled the previous record of 2,101, set on Thursday.

In a statement, State Health Commissioner Lance Frye said "significant community spread" is the primary reason for Saturday's number of new cases, but a reporting backlog as labs transition from manual to electronic reporting also factored into the report.

"The number today adds to a continued upward trend that we are monitoring closely. Additional actions will be taken should this trend continue," Frye said in the statement after encouraging Oklahomans to do their part by wearing masks, washing their hands and practicing social distancing.

Gov. Kevin Stitt issued a statement calling on Oklahomans "to do the right thing and protect their families, neighbors and those who are most vulnerable," again by washing their hands frequently, watching their distance, and wearing a mask when distancing is not possible or when visiting indoor public places. This week's report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommended clear messaging that Oklahomans should always wear masks in public places and should stop gathering with people outside of their households.

Stitt did not indicate on Saturday whether the state is considering additional actions.

County-level information was not available Saturday afternoon.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, climbed for a seventh straight day, rising from 1,475 to 1,961. It's the third day in a row the state has set a new high in the seven-day average. The average has risen 940 over the past seven days. Since Sept. 19, the seven-day average has been below 1,000 just two days.

The state reported nine deaths. More information on them was not immediately available. Since March 18, COVID-19 has officially killed 1,438 Oklahomans.

There were 1,045 Oklahomans hospitalized for COVID-19 on Friday evening, 20 more than on Thursday. The record is 1,055, set on Wednesday. Of those hospitalized Friday, 944 had positive coronavirus tests. Overall, 312 Oklahomans hospitalized for COVID-19 were in intensive care units, 14 fewer than Thursday.

According to the state health department, Tulsa County had 261 residents hospitalized as of Friday evening, nine more than on Thursday.

As of Friday, the state reported 7% of its adult ICU beds were available.

Information on recovered patients and active cases was not available Saturday afternoon.

The state's reported overall positive test rate remained at 8.5% on Friday. Out of 15,003 tests reported on Friday, 9.9% were positive. Each positive test does not necessarily represent a unique individual.

The state also reports its cumulative positive test rate, a metric used by Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. It is calculated by dividing the number of cases by the number of negative tests plus the number of cases. As of Friday, that rate was 7.7%, unchanged from Thursday.

Johns Hopkins uses the different rate to compare states that may track testing differently. It notes the ideal way to calculate the positivity rate is dividing the number of people who test positive by the number of people who are tested, which is how Oklahoma's overall rate is calculated.

The World Health Organization's benchmark indicating adequate testing is a 5% positive test rate.

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.
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