COVID-19 deaths at Veterans Center reach 27, county health data marks 19th death

Michael D. Smith

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Carter County’s 19th death linked to COVID-19 on Thursday as the number of active cases in the county remained over 600. The newest reported death highlights delays in the reporting of deaths considering the Ardmore Veterans Center confirmed three more deaths at the facility since Monday.

Oklahoma has recorded 315,354 cases of COVID-19 after 3,781 new cases were reported on Thursday, according to OSDH data. The death toll reported by OSDH grew to 2,672 after 39 new deaths linked to COVID-19 were reported on Thursday.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma is on pace to surpass 108,000 this month alone.

One of those newly reported deaths was that of a Carter County man over 65 years old, according to Thursday’s OSDH daily situation report. The report did not indicate when the death actually occurred.

The number of resident deaths at the Ardmore Veterans Center climbed to 27 this week after three more deaths were linked to the disease, according to Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Joel Kentsil. He said that while deaths reported by the state health department must go through a verification process, the ODVA can verify and record them much faster.

Carter County has recorded 3,198 cases of the disease after 89 new cases were reported on Wednesday. The number of active COVID-19 cases in the county surged to 642 on Wednesday, the highest number reported in the county by OSDH.

The Ardmore Veterans Center had 51 active cases, 22 fewer than last week, according to a Thursday email from Kentsil. The number of recoveries at the facility soared to 29 this week, up from less than 10 last week, and nine residents remained hospitalized.

Kentsil said the Ardmore facility was the last of seven statewide veterans centers to record a positive case of COVID-19 when the outbreak began on Dec. 8. It remained one of only four centers across the state to have active cases.

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. OSDH reports of confirmed cases and deaths linked to COVID-19 are known to be delayed by days or even weeks.

The less volatile seven-day average of new daily cases fell slightly on Thursday to 3,488 but has remained near 3,500 since Jan. 2. About 30% of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma have been recorded in the past 30 days, and over 61% of statewide cases have been recorded since Nov. 1.

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.