The novel coronavirus continues to spread in the Tulsa metropolitan area, as local officials said on Thursday some metrics are improving while others are continuing to go in the wrong direction.
"By Jan. 18, more than 9% of all Tulsa County residents had tested positive for COVID-19," said Dr. Bruce Dart, executive director of the Tulsa Health Department, at a virtual press conference Thursday morning. "We're on track to reach 10% of our population being positive within 12 days."
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum pointed to COVID hospitalizations as a measure by which things are looking both up and down at once.
"The good news is that daily hospitalizations for COVID patients peaked about 10 days ago and they've been on a decline ever since then," Bynum said. "The bad news is that they are declining from an all-time record high, and we still today have about twice as many COVID patients in Tulsa hospitals as we did at the beginning of November."
Bynum and Dart acknowledged "frustration" with roll-out of vaccination efforts, but each said delays and other complications are not the fault of state or local organizations but primarily the result of the federal handling of vaccine distribution.
Dart stressed the vaccine is still "just one tool in our toolbox" and residents should still use extreme caution.
"With case numbers so high in our community, I encourage everyone to stay home when possible, attend religious services virtually, use curbside/delivery methods to obtain food and medical supplies, wear your mask around anyone who does not live in your house, wash your hands, try eating sometimes outdoors in the fresh air, please make healthy eating choices, and continue your routine medical appointments and care," Dart said. "Believe me, everyone: I know it's hard, but brighter days are ahead."
The mayor asked Tulsans to participate in submitting 15-second videos of gratitude for the city's health care workers, who he noted "are under a far greater strain today than they were back in March and April" when there were more frequent and visible displays of gratitude, he said.
While Bynum said the number one way to show appreciation to "health care heroes" is by wearing a mask in public, the videos will be compiled by the city's communications team to create a "thank you" video to play in hospitals "so these folks can be reminded of what kind of city they're trying to save every day that they go to work."
The deadline for video submissions is Feb. 5; more information is available at the city's "Tulsa Thanks You" webpage.