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COVID Cases Double In A Week In Tulsa County, Officials Wait On Issuing Guidance

Dr. Dale Bratzler, University of Oklahoma's chief COVID officer, speaks about community transmission levels at the Healthier Oklahoma press conference. The map shows community transmission in Oklahoma and surrounding states.

Though testing remains low, the number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 has now risen to 13.7% in Tulsa County.


Dr. David Kendrick, CEO of MyHealth Access Network, spoke at a Healthier Oklahoma press conference yesterday. He first reviewed statewide positivity that’s at 12.3%, then moved on to specific locations.


“The Tulsa community we have at 13.7%. That rise started a few weeks ago.”


Executive Director for the Tulsa Health Department Dr. Bruce Dart said cases in the county have nearly doubled in a week


“Last Tuesday we had 361 cases reported for that week. Today we had 613 cases reported, which is almost double,” said Dart.


Dart said 4% of hospital patients in Tulsa are COVID patients, which is not a high number, but is trending in the wrong direction.


Patti Davis, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, echoed the sentiment for Oklahoma as a whole.


“As of yesterday, 211 patients were hospitalized statewide, with 74 being in the intensive care unit. Our numbers are just headed in the wrong direction,” said Davis. 


Davis said the time to put prevention strategies in place is now.


Some health departments around the country are making specific suggestions to residents about safety. Dr. Dart said Tulsa is still considering making a statement. At present, the department is following Centers for Disease Control masking guidelines.


“We’ll wait to see if the CDC will change that recommendation. At the same time, we’ll follow local data, and if we start to see an even bigger increase in cases and hospitalizations, we’ll definitely have that conversation here around recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals,” said Dart.


It’s unclear how much cases will need to rise for guidance to be issued.


The CDC itself has sometimes struggled with mask guidelines. In a recent announcement, the organization said fully vaccinated K-12 students don’t need masks. States are grappling with how to interpret it as the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain in the country.


Dr. Dart said whatever officials settle on will probably be a suggestion.


“We would recommend or not. I seriously doubt we’ll go down the mandate road. But with COVID, anything is possible,” said Dart.