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County woman among 35 new virus deaths statewide

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

January has recorded eight COVID-19 deaths in Carter County after a dramatic spike in cases locally following the holidays. Data from the state health department shows Oklahoma still recording an average of over 2,500 new cases each day, well below record highs but still higher than anything recorded in the state before November. 

Even though the number of new COVID-19 cases recorded in Oklahoma has dropped from a spike just after the holidays, more than 2,500 new cases are being reported each day.

A Carter County woman between 50 and 64 years old officially became the 26th person in the county to die from COVID-19, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Public Health daily situation report on Thursday. Her death was among 35 deaths reported statewide by OSDH on Thursday which sent the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 3,423. 

Oklahoma has recorded 381,430 total cases of COVID-19 after 2,320 new cases were recorded Thursday, according to the OSDH COVID-19 dashboard. Carter County accounts for 4,858 of those cases after 32 new cases were reported in the county. 

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. 

By Tuesday, the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Ardmore had recorded 41 deaths linked to COVID-19 since Dec. 16. The facility has lost 21 residents to COVID-19 since Jan. 2. It remains unclear which, if any, of those deaths have been officially confirmed by OSDH. 

The outbreak at the center coincided with a surge in new and active COVID-19 cases through November and December. Active cases in Carter County dramatically spiked by 1,046 on Jan. 11 and the seven-day average of new cases peaked three days later at 137, according to OSDH data compiled by The Ardmoreite.  

Even though new and active cases each day have dramatically fallen from peaks earlier this month, both statistics in Carter County remain near highs recorded before the spike. The number of active cases in Carter County fell for a fourth consecutive day to 479 on Thursday while the seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 41 – both markers reaching their lowest levels since Jan. 1.  

Despite the falls, new and active cases remain nearly double what they were before the holiday surge. For comparison, Carter County did not record more than 300 active cases of COVID-19 in a single day until Nov. 23, and the seven-day average of new cases never surpassed 20 until Nov. 8. 

Statewide markers for new and active cases of COVID-19 have followed similar trends surrounding the spike in infections earlier this month. The number of active cases in Oklahoma fell to 29,171 on Thursday – the lowest recorded since Dec. 31 – while the seven-day average of new daily cases has remained below 2,700 since Jan. 21.  

Active COVID-19 cases in Carter County are down from record highs earlier this month but are still double what was recorded through early November and before the holiday season.

Similar to Carter County, Oklahoma did not record more than 15,000 active cases of COVID-19 until Oct. 22, the same day the seven-day average of new cases first surpassed 1,200. 

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 also appear to be trending downward statewide but continue to limit available health care resources. At least 1,375 hospital beds in the state on Wednesday were occupied by COVID-19 patients, down from near 2,000 on Jan. 6 but about twice of what was being recorded through early October. 

Mercy Hospital Ardmore was caring for 38 patients with COVID-19 on Thursday morning, including 11 in the hospital's intensive care unit, according to Mercy Hospital media relations Executive Director Nancy Corbett. 

Mercy Hospital Ardmore President Daryle Voss said new straits of the coronavirus continue to be a concern even as COVID-19 hospitalizations drop.

"“We continue to see downward trends across all our Mercy facilities as well as here locally. However, we remain vigilant in the battle not knowing the impact of the variant, more contagious strains as they continue to spread in the United States," Voss said.

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 to include information from Mercy Hospital Ardmore