State health commissioner 'cautiously optimistic' by declining COVID-19 numbers

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

A drop in COVID-19 case numbers prompted state health officials to investigate reporting systems.  

“After checking with staff and comparing different sources of information, we can report the data is accurate and our case count has been significantly down this week,” said Dr. Lance Frye, Commissioner for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, in a Thursday statement. 

“In addition, hospitalizations statewide are trending down, which we know is a much-needed respite for our health care workers on the frontlines,” he said. 

The seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases fell to its lowest point in almost three weeks Thursday.

Oklahoma has recorded 363,046 total cases of COVID-19 after 2,686 new cases were recorded Thursday, according to the OSDH COVID-19 dashboard. The number of deaths grew to 3,140 after 55 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. OSDH reports of confirmed cases and deaths linked to COVID-19 are known to be delayed by days or even weeks. 

Active cases statewide fell for a fourth consecutive day to 32,771, the lowest number recorded since Dec. 31, according to OSDH data compiled by The Ardmoreite. The seven-day average of new daily cases statewide also fell below 2,650 for the first time since Dec. 31. 

“This is great news for our state, and follows a trend of decreased cases we are seeing broadly nationwide. We are hopeful this trend will continue and are cautiously optimistic,” Frye said. 

The trend locally is similar as a dramatic surge in COVID-19 in Carter County slows. Carter County has recorded 4,568 cases after 49 new cases were recorded on Thursday. The seven-day average of new cases fell to 51 Thursday, the lowest number recorded since Jan. 1, after reaching a record high 137.4 one week prior.  

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Carter County fell to a three-week low Thursday.

Statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 have also fallen this week but remain among the highest of the pandemic. At least 1,700 Oklahoma hospital beds were filled with COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, the lowest number of hospitalized patients since late December.  

"[H]ospitalizations statewide are trending down, which we know is a much-needed respite for our health care workers on the frontlines,” said Frye. 

New COVID-19 hospitalizations each day have fallen from record highs in recent weeks but remain among the highest during the pandemic.

At least 1,000 hospital beds in Oklahoma have been occupied by a COVID-19 patient every day since at least Nov. 3. A record 1,996 Oklahoma hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients on Jan. 6. 

“As always, we will continue to monitor our data and state trends with the hope that our cases will continue to decrease and are committed to sharing that information in a timely and transparent manner with all Oklahomans,” said Frye. 

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.