Bruce Dart

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."

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Tuesday he's hopeful changes in the way the federal government apportions COVID-19 vaccine doses could be good news for Tulsa County.

"We think it'll be very impactful," Dart said on a virtual press update Tuesday morning. "Especially because we know we have quite a few private providers who have signed up to be distributors of the vaccine to their patients as well as pharmacies and urgent cares. We would have a much larger number of distribution points."

Tulsa Health Department

While the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Oklahoma is being universally celebrated by public health officials, health care workers and medical leaders, they are stressing that the immunizations won't have immediate impact on infection levels and vigilance is still necessary to prevent unnecessary transmission of the virus.

"It is here to stay, regardless of our vaccination process," said Dr. Jennifer Clark of the OSU Center for Health Sciences' Project ECHO faculty team. "Masking is going to be with us for probably the next year to two years until we get appropriately immunized."

Twitter / @GovStitt

Despite clear guidance from the CDC and a top White House coronavirus official against such behavior due to the devastating surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday he plans to attend a college football game and celebrate Thanksgiving with members of his family outside his immediate household.

"I'm going to be with my family over Thanksgiving. I'm going to do it safely. I'm going to be with my parents. I think Oklahomans should be with their loved ones over Thanksgiving," Stitt said at a press briefing at the state Capitol. 

City of Broken Arrow

Despite worsening COVID-19 numbers as the pandemic heightens to its direst point ever in Oklahoma and nationwide, the Broken Arrow City Council Tuesday showed little interest in pursuing the sort of mandatory mask ordinance passed by Tulsa, Jenks and Sapulpa, spending more time at their meeting asserting false claims about masks and the pandemic, and calling for more civility on "both sides" of the issue.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Citing the need to address the troublingly high increases in COVID-19 infections throughout Tulsa County, officials are cautioning against many traditional activities associated with the upcoming holidays that may trigger further spread of the coronavirus.

Courtesy Sam Vicent Davis (Twitter @samanthavicent)

The Republican Party of Tulsa County is defending its decision to hold a large, indoor event earlier this week on the evening of Election Day, even as COVID-19 infections and deaths are surging and as local health officials and hospital leaders are pleading with county residents to take more responsibility to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa County’s active COVID-19 infections are at a record high, but the Tulsa City Council’s working group on the pandemic said on Wednesday no new restrictions are planned at the moment.

"What we saw roll out last March are the tools in the toolbox. Right now, the tool that we have that we want people to use is masking, washing your hands and watching your distance. We don’t want to limit gatherings. We don’t want to impact our community’s economic recovery right now," Councilor Lori Decter Wright said during a council committee meeting held virtually on Wednesday.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa officials are once again asking for the help of Tulsa County residents and the leaders of neighboring municipalities in beating back a climbing wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, said at a press conference Tuesday that most county residents who have contracted COVID-19 lately are choosing to actively impede public health investigators by refusing to answer the questions of contact tracers.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

(This story was updated at 5:25 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 16, to add a response from Derek Pate, Director of the Center for Health Statistics at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.)

The Tulsa Health Department said Thursday it would be making changes to the way it reports COVID-19 hospitalizations after determining the Oklahoma State Department of Health data it previously relied on was inaccurate.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Younger students will be allowed to return to in-person classes next month following a prolonged all-virtual start to the Tulsa Public Schools year caused by troubling local rates of transmission of the novel coronavirus.

The Tulsa Public Schools board came up with its own plan for students to come back to school. Over the course of a seven-hour meeting, they settled on pre-K and kindergarten students returning on Nov. 9 and attending Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be distance learning days.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Local officials on Tuesday painted a dire picture of the weeks and months to come if COVID-19 infection and hospitalization trends don't improve in the Tulsa area.

"Currently, our 14-, 30- and 60-day trends are all showing an increase. Our 7-day rolling average is also increasing. Our 7-day rolling average is above where we were in mid- to late-July, just before our biggest spike in cases," said Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department.

City of Tulsa

The annual "Don't Bug Me" flu awareness campaign from the Tulsa Health Department and Hillcrest HealthCare System has returned, as officials stress the importance of preventing the spread of the flu at a time when COVID-19 is already impacting hospital capacity.

Tulsa Health Department

The Tulsa Health Department has introduced a new, color-coded COVID-19 alert map, which Director Dr. Bruce Dart says is meant to help inform residents of the Tulsa metro of up-to-date risk levels in their communities.

"I think the more knowledge they have about where risk truly is allows them to follow recommendations and follow guidelines to keep themselves safe, and that's really what we're after," Dart said at a Monday press conference.

City of Tulsa

The Oklahoma State Medical Association on Wednesday issued a letter in support of amending Tulsa's mask ordinance to require masks for children 10 years and up.

Oklahoma State University

As some colleges and universities across the country have become hotbeds for new COVID-19 outbreaks since welcoming students back to campus for fall semester, Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday stressed that students at Oklahoma institutions should remain on campus if they become infected.

Facebook / City of Tulsa Gov

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.

Twitter / @realdonaldtrump

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s former state epidemiologist warned that President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa in June could lead to as many as nine deaths and 228 new cases of COVID-19, according to documents released Wednesday.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

One day after Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, called for all municipalities in Tulsa County to introduce a mask mandate similar to the city of Tulsa's to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials in some of those cities and towns showed no indication they plan to take the guidance.

"We have discussed it, and the Bixby council is not willing to pass a mask mandate at this time," said Bixby Mayor Brian Guthrie. 

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

(This story was updated at 5:02 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27th, to include additional information from the Tulsa Health Department on settings connected to COVID-19 infections.)

Following newly released documents from the White House coronavirus task force recommending that the city of Tulsa and Tulsa County implement more stringent measures to combat the pandemic, local officials on Thursday stressed local expertise and knowledge are more targeted and relevant than the federal suggestions.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Following the leak of a report showing the White House considers Oklahoma a “red zone” for COVID-19 cases and is privately urging the state’s government to institute far stricter measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, such as a statewide mask mandate and the closure of all bars, local officials are expressing considerable frustration that they’re being kept in the dark about federal recommendations.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The head of the Tulsa Health Department says threats have been made against his life as a result of public health recommendations he's made over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Should schools reopen? Should we be playing (or practicing) team sports right now? And which type of mask is the safest one to wear? On this edition of ST Medical Monday, we speak about these and other matters with Dr. Bruce Dart, executive director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department. Dr. Dart, who last appeared on our show back in March, offers an update on COVID-19 in our community at present.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

It was an exclusive meeting.

After abundant anticipation of a visit to Oklahoma by Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House coronavirus task force since President Trump announced it earlier this month, at the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa on Sunday, she was kept separated from the public, the media, and even the director of the Tulsa Health Department.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County continues to see "widespread virus" in the community, as delays in testing contribute to difficulties in properly responding to the pandemic, according the Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

At a press conference Tuesday at Tulsa Police Department headquarters, Dart said that testing laboratories are "swamped," leading to numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health that may be less useful due to being dated.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

Despite recommendations from the Trump administration that the state of Oklahoma implement far stricter restrictions to combat the coronavirus, a spokesperson for Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday that they're just that -- recommendations.

"The Governor’s office followed up after the Task Force’s latest report and the White House confirmed that these are not mandates and that the State is not out of compliance with any federal orders," said Baylee Lakey, the governor's communications director, in an emailed statement.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Updated Aug. 4, 12:05 p.m. to correct "Cox Business Center" to "Cox Business Convention Center."

One month after their controversial booking of President Trump's 6,000-person reelection rally, representatives of the BOK Center and the Cox Business Convention Center in downtown Tulsa are expressing worry over how hard it is to keep events on the schedule.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County officials said local coronavirus numbers remain troubling, but they hope the recently adopted mask mandate can slow or reverse the trends.

"Are we plateauing in cases as the governor indicated we might be in Oklahoma? In Tulsa County, we are not -- we are continuing to surge," said Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, in response to a reporter's question.

"We're continuing to see a higher percent of daily positives than we would like. It's telling us the virus is widespread in our community and the prevalence is extremely high," Dart said.

Center for Public Integrity

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and a spokesperson for Tulsa Health Director Dr. Bruce Dart said neither of them had received communications from Gov. Kevin Stitt or the federal government regarding a recently uncovered White House document dated July 14th recommending that the Tulsa metropolitan area take stricter steps to combat the coronavirus.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Mayor G.T.

Pages