Statewide surge slows, active COVID-19 cases remain near 30,000

Michael D. Smith

A surge in reported COVID-19 cases that started in late October seems to have slowed in recent days, but hundreds of new cases are reported each day and the number of active cases in Oklahoma remained near 30,000 on Tuesday. Recent data from the state health department also shows that the statewide trends actually dropped in Carter County, with some local data markers reaching three-week lows.

The 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Carter County fell to the lowest point in about three weeks on Monday.

Oklahoma has recorded 220,686 cases of COVID-19 after 2,297 new cases were reported on Tuesday, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Deaths linked to the disease jumped to 1,922 after 11 new deaths were reported statewide.

The true number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

Nearly 45% of all confirmed cases in Oklahoma have been from people age 35 or younger, according to the OSDH COVID-19 dashboard on Tuesday. While about one out of every three cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma has been reported from people age 50 or over, about 96% of deaths in the state have been from this age group.

Tuesday marked the fifth consecutive day that the average of new daily cases was outpaced by new recoveries. The seven-day average of new cases fell slightly below 3,000 and active cases statewide fell below 30,000 for the first time in three days, according to OSDH data compiled by The Ardmoreite.

Oklahoma still had almost 30,000 active cases of COVID-19 Tuesday after a 12% drop from the record high on Nov. 23.

The statewide surge in new and active cases of the disease that started in late October seems to have slowed, but health care infrastructure continues to struggle with the weeks-long increase. A breakdown of hospital resources across the eight OSDH regions shows the surge has put a notable strain on hospitals.

The last time all eight regions experienced less than 15% of hospital capacity used for COVID-19 treatment was Oct. 19, according to OSDH hospital surge plans. Four weeks later on Nov. 24, all but one of the regions were experiencing between 20% and 40% of hospital capacity used for COVID-19 treatment.

Before Oct. 19, the most COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported on July 29 when 663 confirmed or suspected cases were receiving care in hospitals, according to OSDH daily situation reports. By Dec. 2, that record was shattered when 1,673 COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported. 

The number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations grew by 19 on Tuesday, while the 7-day average fell only slightly to 157.

On Tuesday, at least 1,634 people were still receiving care in Oklahoma hospitals for confirmed or suspected COVID-19. That number has not fallen below 1,600 since Nov. 24.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Carter County fell to 270 on Tuesday, down from the record 364 on Nov. 30. Tuesday’s number is the lowest local number of active cases since Nov. 19.

At least 25 patients at Mercy Hospital Ardmore on Tuesday had tested positive for COVID-19, according to a hospital spokesperson. Five of those patients were receiving ICU treatment.

The seven-day average of new cases in Carter County also fell to a three-week low on Tuesday, according to OSDH data compiled by The Ardmoreite. After reaching 42.6 on Nov. 28, the local seven-day average fell to 24.3 by Tuesday. 

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Carter County fell to 270 Tuesday, a 25% drop from the record high about a week earlier on Nov. 30.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

This story was updated at 5:55 p.m. to include information from Mercy Hospital Ardmore.