Local Officials Say Virus Continues Infecting Children As Schools Reopen

Sep 18, 2020

At a Thursday press conference, local officials said concern is growing alongside COVID-19 infections as more Tulsa County children catch the novel coronavirus.

"In the 5-to-17 age group, there were over 100 cases last week," Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said, adding that some in that age group were hospitalized.

"We've identified multiple outbreaks at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, religious settings, and in long-term care settings. Among cases associated with high-risk settings, schools had the most cases, followed by long-term care settings. We've also identified a notable number of cases among food service workers," Dart said.

"We continue to see an increase in COVID-19 cases among children under the age of 18. Since Aug. 19, we have 196 confirmed cases associated with K-12 settings all across Tulsa County reported to us by those schools," Dart said.

Dart encouraged parents to keep their children home from school, athletics, and other activities if sick.

"In recent weeks, we have learned of multiple instances of a student being sent home during the day after a family member received a positive test result. Please do not -- let me repeat that: do not -- send your children to scohol, sports, or other activities until you have your results back," Dart said.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said he supported Dart's recommendation that the age limit for the city's mask mandate ordinance be lowered from 18 to 10, and that he is planning to work with the Tulsa City Council to get that change brought for a vote in the near future.

Overall in Tulsa County, new infections were down 27% week-over-week, but Dart noted that testing is also markedly down. The test positivity rate of tests conducted by THD, he said, was over 20%. According to some public health experts and agencies, over 10% signifies an outbreak that is out of control.