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Epidemiologist: Oklahoma COVID Deaths To Continue Rising


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The rolling average of deaths in Oklahoma due to the illness caused by the coronavirus is rising as the number of new cases has declined, a trend an epidemiologist said Tuesday that he believes will continue for at least a few more weeks.

“The longest lag that I’ve observed so far is about four weeks,” between reported cases and COVID-19 deaths, said Aaron Wendelboe, an epidemiologist at the University of Oklahoma College of Public Health. “My best guess is really, probably in a week or two.”

The seven-day rolling average of COVID deaths in Oklahoma has risen during the past two weeks from 31.29 per day to 38.71, according to data from Johns Hopkins University while the rolling average of cases per day declined from 3,081.29 to 2,287.86.

Wendelboe said the current trend indicates Oklahoma could fall to about 400 new cases per day by the end of April, a number not seen since last June.

The virus itself is likely not going to disappear, said Dr. Stan Schwartz, president and CEO of the Northeastern Oklahoma Business Coalition on Health.

“My guess is that we learn to live with this like influenza at least for the next several years. It’ll be virus versus vaccine versus tamping down any localized epidemics that occur over time,” Schwartz said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 1,296 new virus cases and 38 additional deaths for totals of 392,164 cases and 3,602 deaths since the pandemic began.

Oklahoma ranked seventh in the nation in the number of new cases per capita with 863.59 per 100,000 residents during the past 14 days, according to Johns Hopkins data.

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