Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma ranks 50th in the nation for percent of COVID-19 test samples being sequenced to detect virus variants of concern, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Oklahoma has sequenced 0.18% of the positive tests that we've seen coming through on the state level," said Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, on a Tuesday press briefing conducted virtually by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition.

Tulsa Health Department

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Tuesday it will be able to extend the shelf life of 75,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that were set to expire at the end of this month due to a change in federal guidance.

"The 75,000 doses anticipated to expire in June will now be available for administration until August 7, with some of the lots expiring July 24," the department said in a news release.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

A top state health official said Thursday that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is not giving up on improving COVID-19 vaccination rates in the state after weeks of placing near the bottom in national rankings.

State officials said Tuesday they are on track to have Oklahoma’s new public health lab in Stillwater fully operational by October.

Newborn screening and COVID-19 sequencing are now being done there. Newborn screening tests had been outsourced to a Pennsylvania lab, while COVID sequencing remained in Oklahoma City.

A dedicated team is working on the lab build out. Health department officials expect the lab will be capable of handling sexually transmitted disease, tuberculosis, rabies, mycology and microbiology testing by the fall.

State Starts Tracking COVID-19 Variants

May 19, 2021
OSDH

Oklahoma is recognizing the need to track COVID-19 variants.

 

Dr. Jennifer Clark of Oklahoma State University’s ECHO Project pointed to new data on variants released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health in early May, but says this information isn’t where it needs to be yet. 

 

CDC

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 69% of COVID-19 infections in Oklahoma's region are now caused by variant B117. More variants are on the rise, as well.

"We have not identified any new variants...but variants of interest have grown considerably," said Dr. Jennifer Clark of Oklahoma State University's Project ECHO.   

Less Data Available As COVID-19 Emergency Order Expires

May 4, 2021

With the expiration of Governor Stitt’s COVID-19 emergency order, less data about the pandemic will be available to Oklahomans.

 

In a press conference today, Derek Pate, Chief Integrity Officer for the State Department of Health, announced a number of changes to its COVID-19 website, including a delay in reporting of positive cases.  

 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced a new state epidemiologist.

Jolianne Stone, formerly deputy state epidemiologist, will be the fourth official to serve in the role over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, following Laurence Burnsed, Dr. Aaron Wendelboe, and outgoing Dr. Jared Taylor.

Stone's "past experience includes Infection Prevention Manager at Integris, and she brings her unique perspective addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in a hospital setting to this new position," according to a news release from the state.

Logan County Health Department

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Thursday it was investigating an alleged incident in Logan County where a trans woman was denied a COVID-19 vaccine.

Advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma tweeted, "Hey [OSDH] why is Logan Co Health Department turning away a trans woman trying to get a vaccine and telling us to take it up with the state?"

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Oklahoma health officials say as the state moves COVID-19 case reporting off of the system known as PHIDDO, one lab had an undiscovered technical error for about six weeks.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said that’s been sorted out. Most of the infections were actually acquired in January and February, but there will be an artificial increase in cases Wednesday because of the previously unreported ones.

The Oklahoman — pool photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Health Department has no record of receiving more than $20 million worth of personal protective equipment that it bought to help protect against COVID-19, a state audit revealed.

The state auditor released a report Tuesday that found 28 wire payments from the Health Department totaling $20,431,981 without documentation that the purchased PPE was received. The equipment is worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious injuries and illnesses, including COVID-19.

Healthier Oklahoma Coalition

While Oklahoma appears to be trending well in terms of COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates, public health experts and officials are warning that things could change without vigilance.

"Listen, everyone -- the pandemic is not over yet," said Dr. Aaron Wendelboe, an epidemiologist and professor at the OU Health Sciences Center who formerly served as Oklahoma's state epidemiologist, on a Tuesday press briefing held virtually by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition. "We have not dropped to levels of transmission that are sustainable, that we can control."

Oklahoma health officials defended on Friday the switch to weekly reporting of COVID-19 data but admitted they did not do a good job communicating the change.

The state health department is now updating its dashboard on Wednesdays with data covering the past Sunday through Saturday.

"Even that is extraordinarily responsive. That’s the most that we do for any other disease," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor.

Contact Tracing Investment Yielded No COVID-19 Insights, Report Finds

Mar 25, 2021
Paul Monies / Oklahoma Watch

Updated March 25, 7:20 p.m.

Oklahoma’s boost to its COVID-19 contact tracing efforts led to no insights and was marred by technology problems and a failure to collect the proper data, a new legislative report finds.

Oklahoma spent more than $6.7 million to centralize its COVID-19 contact tracing last summer at the Shepherd Center in Oklahoma City. The state used temporary workers from Express Services Inc. to staff the call center, which had its own coronavirus outbreaks among employees at times.

Screenshot by Dr. George Monks

A change in the way COVID-19 data is being reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health is causing issues for some in the public health sphere, with some saying it's impeding their ability to track the virus's spread.

"I think we're a bit blind right now," said Dr. Dale Bratzler, chief COVID officer for OU Health, discussing the state switching over from daily to weekly updates for some data on a Tuesday press conference hosted by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition. "I'm not happy that we're not reporting county, city and ZIP code level data right now.

Oklahoma Watch

A state Senate committee on Monday moved several of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s nominees for state health officials one step closer to confirmation, advancing them to the floor.

Those included Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Kevin Corbett to serve as state secretary of health and mental health. OHCA is currently in the middle of a transition to outsourcing management of the state’s Medicaid program as requested by Stitt. Sen. Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan) told Corbett a majority of the legislature still opposes that move.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Wednesday it is changing how it reports COVID-19 data going forward.

"After a year of reporting daily numbers in many categories, with cases, deaths and hospitalizations all trending downward, and vaccination continuing to trend upward, we believe now is a good time to switch to weekly reporting. Data transparency has been and will continue to be important to OSDH, no matter the cadence of reporting," Deputy State Epidemiologist Joli Stone said in a statement.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

With COVID-19 vaccine eligibility now expanded to the vast majority of Oklahoma adults, the state health department is urging everyone who qualifies -- including community and government leaders -- to seek out their shots as soon as possible. 

Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma now has greater capability to perform genomic sequencing on COVID-19 samples, making detection of any mutations or variants easier to do in-house -- but the state epidemiologist said Thursday the upgrade's usefulness is dependent on whether Oklahomans continue to proactively seek out testing.

Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps

Despite pregnant patients not being included in clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, experts say that doesn't necessarily mean the shots aren't safe for them.

American Academy of Pediatrics Oklahoma Chapter

Public health experts and physicians' groups said Thursday that Gov. Kevin Stitt is misrepresenting research to justify his push for all school districts in Oklahoma to offer in-person learning despite the state's severe and dire COVID-19 situation.

Tulsa Health Department

In a Wednesday afternoon press release, the state of Oklahoma boasted of being nationally ranked in the top ten for the percent of the state population which had received an initial dose of COVID-19 vaccine. “Oklahoma has a plan in place for vaccine distribution, and we are seeing the effective results of this, as we are among the Top 10 states in the nation getting our people vaccinated,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in the release.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Frontier’s Kassie McClung and StateImpact Oklahoma collaborated on this story.

Contractors could soon manage the Oklahoma Public Health Laboratory, Interim Commissioner of Health Lance Frye told employees this week.

Additionally, health officials confirmed to The Frontier and StateImpact that the plan now includes temporarily moving portions of the lab into trailers while renovations to the interim facility are underway.

Oklahoma health officials say confidence in the safety, efficacy and necessity of the coming vaccines against COVID-19 will be a crucial factor in the state's pandemic response plan.

"On the Vice President [Mike Pence] call" with the White House coronavirus task force, Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner Lance Frye said on a Thursday videoconference with reporters, "they stated that initially their first survey said that about 50% of Oklahomans would take it and 50% wouldn't take it."

Facebook / OU Health

Representatives from Oklahoma nursing groups said Thursday that while a meeting they requested with state officials was a good "first step," the Oklahoma State Department of Health and governor's office gave them few firm assurances that their requests pertaining to staffing shortages would be addressed.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A major COVID testing lab is expected to keep open free testing sites in Tulsa and other population centers after the Oklahoma State Department of Health allocated an additional $5.8 million in federal coronavirus relief funding for it late Thursday.

IMMY Labs expected to stop offering free testing because it had run short on state funding amid a testing boom before Thanksgiving.

According to state data, IMMY Labs has run more than 10% of all COVID tests in the state since Nov. 1.

Wikipedia

Starting Monday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health will allow 14-day, in-school quarantines for students potentially exposed to the coronavirus at school.

The agency released guidelines on Wednesday for the temporary program, which will let students participate in distance learning under supervision and with better access to technology and nutrition resources.

Quarantined students are to be kept separate from other students, masked and distanced from each other at all times.

Physicians, nurses and health care groups in Oklahoma are expressing concern over the state department of health's recent guidance to allow health care workers infected with COVID-19 but asymptomatic to remain on the job rather than quarantine.

"To me, that seems like the most insane thing," said Dr. Scott Michener, chief medical officer at Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, on a videoconference with reporters organized by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition on Tuesday.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum issued a late-night statement Monday following reports from the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) that the city's hospitals had zero ICU beds available and a report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health showing a record-breaking number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized across Oklahoma.

Youtube / Gov. Kevin Stitt

Following a new daily COVID-19 case count on Saturday that more than doubled the previous record, the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced that it would be skipping its daily update for Sunday "to catch up and ensure duplications are removed."

The new statewide infection total released Saturday, 4,741 Oklahomans confirmed to have contracted the disease, eclipsed the previous record of 2,101 set Thursday. On Sunday, the state said it had removed duplicates and adjusted the number; the revised total was reduced slightly, to 4,507.

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