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Carter County among coronavirus hotspots nationwide as official, unofficial deaths climb

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
Carter County is on pace to record more than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 in January, more than every other month of the pandemic combined.

Carter County has officially recorded 20 deaths linked to COVID-19 while the Oklahoma Veterans Center has recorded almost twice as many COVID-19 deaths just at the Ardmore facility.

The growing number of fatalities connected to the pandemic locally came the same week that Mercy Hospital Ardmore recorded another record number of COVID-19 patients.

Carter County has recorded 4,367 cases of the disease after 76 new cases were reported on Saturday, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The county recorded a 20th death on Saturday but daily situation reports from OSDH that include information about recently recorded deaths are not typically released on Saturday. 

The seven-day average of new daily cases in the county fell slightly to 97 on Saturday after reaching a record high 137.4 on Thursday, according to OSDH data compiled by The Ardmoreite. At least 928 of the cases were considered active in Carter County on Thursday. 

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 reporting of confirmed cases and deaths linked to COVID-19 is known to be delayed by days or even weeks. 

Oklahoma is on pace to surpass 120,000 new COVID-19 cases this month, about as many that were recorded between March and October.

At least five residents at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Ardmore have died this week, according to Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Director of Homes Shawn Kirkland. A total of 39 residents from the facility have died since a Dec. 8 outbreak.  

At least 21 other residents currently have the disease with two receiving hospital care, Kirkland said in a Friday email. 

January is on pace to be the deadliest month of the pandemic in Oklahoma, with the number of virus-related deaths this month already surpassing nine of the past 10 months.

Mercy Hospital Ardmore was treating 54 patients for COVID-19 on Saturday morning, including 11 patients receiving ICU treatment, according to Mercy Hospital media relations Executive Director Nancy Corbett. That was down from a record high 62 patients hospitalized on Thursday for the disease but is the most COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit.

“We continue to be concerned for our community and our ability to serve our patients as the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Carter County which has the highest rates per capita in the state,” said Mercy Hospital Ardmore President Daryle Voss in a Thursday statement.  

“Please, for the sake of your loved ones and our frontline co-workers, get vaccinated as soon as you can, mask up and social distance at every opportunity,” said Voss. 

Carter County has regularly been among some of the worst hit counties not only in Oklahoma but across the country in the past week. Carter County's record high seven-day average on Thursday was the highest in Oklahoma for a second consecutive day.

Carter County on Saturday had the third-highest instance of active cases per 100,000 residents in Oklahoma, according to OSDH data and 2019 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates compiled by The Ardmoreite. 

A hotspot tracker from The New York Times ranked Carter County among the top ten worst counties for new cases per capita in the nation on Wednesday. The county remained 14th on the list Saturday, immediately behind Roger Mills County, with other hotspots in Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky.

This story has been updated to correct the number of deaths reported by the Oklahoma Veterans Center.