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Local & Regional

7 More Dead in Tulsa County as State Hits a Quarter Million Cases of COVID-19

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National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 3,556 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 251,760.

Tulsa County had 620 of Friday's cases. Its total now stands at 41,816, second to Oklahoma County's 51,811.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, remains near record levels, dropping from 3,250 to 3,201. The average has held relatively steady since Dec. 6. The record is 3,387, set the day after Thanksgiving. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Tulsa County's seven-day average of new cases rose from 468 to 471. Since the county's seven-day average first broke 400 on Nov. 16, it has dipped below that on just four days. The record of 498 was set Dec. 4.

The state reported 17 deaths. Seven were in Tulsa County: one man 50 to 64 years old, and three women and three men 65 or older. Statewide, An Oklahoma County woman 36 to 49 years old, three adults 50 to 64 years old and six more adults 65 or older were also reported dead.

Since March 18, COVID-19 has officially killed 2,161 Oklahomans, 338 of them Tulsa County residents. The state has reported an average of 22 deaths the past seven days.

The state changed its hospital reporting on Tuesday and is now only giving the number of patients with a positive COVID test. Admitted patients suspected of having COVID-19 were previously included in the total. There were 1,733 Oklahomans with positive COVID tests hospitalized on Thursday evening, 34 more than on Wednesday and a new high. The previous record was 1,717, set on Tuesday. When the state set its combined hospitalization record of 1,782 on Dec. 2, 1,673 of those patients had positive COVID tests. There were 460 COVID-positive Oklahomans in intensive care units on Thursday, 21 fewer than on Wednesday.

According to the state health department, Tulsa County had 399 COVID-positive residents hospitalized as of Thursday evening, 11 fewer than on Wednesday.

Over the course of the pandemic, 14,970 Oklahomans have been hospitalized for COVID-19.

As of Thursday, the state reported 5% of its adult ICU beds and 12% of its medical surgery beds were available. Also as of Thursday, six of Oklahoma's eight hospital regions, including Tulsa and Oklahoma counties, are at tier three of a four-tier hospital surge plan, meaning 20% to 40% of patients have tested positive for COVID-19 for at least three consecutive days. The OKC and northeast regions have seen three days with 36% to 37% of patients with COVID. Only the east central region remains in tier one.

The state health department reported 3,244 additional patients as recovered on Friday, bringing the total to 217,534. Patients are considered to have recovered if they did not die, are not currently hospitalized and it has been at least 14 days since their symptoms began. Symptoms have been reported to linger for several weeks for some individuals.

The state has 32,065 active cases of COVID-19, 295 more than on Thursday. The record of 35,163 was set Monday.

Tulsa County reported 611 additional patients as recovered, bringing the total to 36,560. The county has 4,918 active cases, two more than on Thursday. The record is 5,426, set on Monday.

The state's reported overall positive test rate remained at 10.2% on Thursday. Out of 44,143 tests reported on Thursday, 14% were positive. Thursday's testing report included data from the previous day because a technical error prevented the state from reporting Wednesday's data. 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 Thursday, that rate was 10.2%, up 0.1 percentage points from Tuesday.

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.

All 77 Oklahoma counties remain at orange level on the state's COVID alert map, indicating the highest risk of transmission.

Tulsa County's rate of new cases per 100,000 population dropped 3.8% this week, going from 74.6 to 71.8. The highest rate of new cases was once again in Alfalfa County, which had a new case rate of 608.8, up 42.1% from last week. The sparsely populated county saw more than 100 new cases in a single day this week.

The orange level starts at 14.3 new cases per 100,000.  Several counties have new case rates over 100.

Regardless of transmission rates, counties are not classified at red, the alert map's highest level, unless COVID patients account for 40% of the staffed hospital beds in that county's state hospital region.

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