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Record 65 COVID Deaths Reported As Spike Continues After Latest Case Peak


The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 2,686 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 379,110.

Tulsa County had 483 of Wednesday's cases. Its total now stands at 62,297, second to Oklahoma County's 73,512.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, jumped from 2,579 to 2,679. The average, however, has stayed below 3,000 for nine days. The record of 4,256 was set Jan. 13. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000.

Tulsa County's seven-day average rose from 423 to 448, its first increase after seven days of declines. The record is 647, set Jan. 9.

The state reported 65 deaths, the most in a single day to date. Some deaths happened as far back as Dec. 14, 2020, but 48 occurred since Jan. 1 and 39 since Jan. 20. There were 11 deaths in Tulsa County: one woman and two men 50 to 64 years old, and three women and five men 65 or older.

Since March 18, COVID-19 has officially killed 3,388 Oklahomans, 557 of them Tulsa County residents. The state has reported an average of 43.3 deaths the past seven days, the highest number to date.

The state again changed its hospitalization reporting method on Tuesday night, reporting only patients in licensed acute care hospitals and no longer including patients in focus, rehabilitation and tribal facilities. Across all those categories, there were 1,454 Oklahomans with positive COVID tests hospitalized on Tuesday evening, unchanged from Monday. The highest number so far was 1,994 hospitalized on Jan. 5. There were 368 COVID-positive Oklahomans in intensive care units on Tuesday, 42 fewer than on Monday. KWGS has asked the state health department to clarify whether the number of ICU beds is affected by the recent reporting change.

According to the state health department, Tulsa County had 330 COVID-positive residents hospitalized as of Tuesday evening, seven fewer than on Monday. The reporting change does not affect regional numbers.

Over the course of the pandemic, 21,314 Oklahomans have been hospitalized for COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, the state offered conflicting hospital bed availability: 3% of adult ICU beds and 12% of medical surgery beds according to the daily executive order report, but 5% and 14% according to a dashboard. KWGS has requested clarification. Also as of Tuesday, five of Oklahoma's eight hospital regions 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 Tulsa, east central and northwest regions are currently at tier two. The OKC region has hovered near 33% the past few days.

The state health department reported 3,170 additional patients as recovered on Wednesday, bringing the total to 345,867. 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 29,855 active cases of COVID-19, 549 fewer than the day before. It's the lowest total and the first time with fewer than 30,000 active cases since Dec. 10. The record is 43,163, set Jan. 11.

Tulsa County reported 567 additional patients as recovered, bringing the total to 56,823. The county has 4,917 active cases, 95 fewer than the day before. It's the lowest active case total since Jan. 1 and the first time the county has had fewer than 5,000 since Jan. 2. The record is 6,731, set Jan. 11.

The state's reported overall positive test rate was 11.4% on Tuesday, unchanged from Monday. Out of 22,115 tests reported on Tuesday, 9.5% were positive. Each positive test does not necessarily represent a unique individual.

The state used to report 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 Tuesday, that rate was 12.1%, unchanged from Monday.

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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