OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of hospitalizations in Oklahoma due to the coronavirus surpassed 1,400 on Wednesday for a new daily record, and a surge in cases is linked to Halloween events, according to a report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
The state did not restrict trick-or-treating on Halloween and has not limited social gatherings.
“Increases from the past two weeks correlate with Halloween and related activities,” according to the task force report, which said Oklahoma remains in the red zone for cases with more than 101 per 100,000 residents.
The task force report recommended limiting restaurants to 25% capacity, curtailing the hours bars are open and encouraging the wearing of masks in public.
“The spread in Oklahoma is exponential and unyielding, with hospitalizations increasing week over week and reported limited bed availability,” according to the federal report released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
There were 1,434 people hospitalized, 53 more than the previous one-day record of 1,381 set Tuesday. The state health department reported 6%, or 54, of the state’s adult intensive care beds are available for patients.
In Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation reported the ICU at its W.W. Hastings Hospital was filled with COVID patients.
“We do contract with other facilities for our patients that require hospitalization,” the tribe said in a statement. “The bed shortage has not been an issue thus far, and our medical staff work diligently to care for every patient, but the concern, like all other communities and states, is if this surge continues and surrounding hospitals become full.”
The seven-day rolling average of new cases in the state has risen from roughly 1,160 per day on Nov. 3 to about 2,607 per day as of Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The report is dated Sunday, the day before Gov. Kevin Stitt announced new restrictions requiring bars and restaurants to space tables at least 6 feet apart and to end in-person service at 11 p.m. He also ordered that masks be worn inside state-run buildings.
The governor’s decision was not prompted by the report, said Stitt spokesman Charlie Hannema.
“No, the governor’s actions have been based on communications with public health advisors and the medical community in Oklahoma,” Hannema said Wednesday.
Stitt on Monday also implored Oklahomans to wear masks in public, practice social distancing and exercise good hand hygiene, which the report called for, but has resisted issuing a statewide mask mandate and did not limit restaurant capacity.
“Just because he is not putting in a mask mandate does not mean he is not pleading with everyone to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands,” Hannema said.
The health department reported 3,017 new cases and 26 additional deaths for totals of 161,425 cases and 1,570 deaths since the pandemic began. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in the state has declined slightly, from 14.6 to 13.3, based on the Johns Hopkins data.
There were 29,823 active cases on Wednesday, an increase of 1,016 from the day before, according to the health department, and 130,032 people have recovered.