State moves to weekly COVID-19 updates, nears 1.5 million vaccine doses administered

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

Daily COVID-19 dashboard updates from the state health department ended this week as pandemic data trends downward in Oklahoma. Daily and weekly updates from the Oklahoma State Department of Health will continue but represent a drastic shift in reporting priorities. 

“After a year of reporting daily numbers in many categories, with cases, deaths and hospitalizations all trending downward, and vaccination continuing to trend upward, we believe now is a good time to switch to weekly reporting,” said Joli Stone, Deputy State Epidemiologist for OSDH, in a Wednesday statement. 

The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 has dropped dramatically since a January spike. According to OSDH data compiled by The Ardmoreite, Oklahoma is on pace to record fewer than 20,000 new cases of the disease this month.

The COVID-19 dashboard on the OSDH website stopped receiving daily updates on Wednesday. Weekly case counts and immunization data moving forward will represent figures published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

OSDH case investigation data will also change from daily to weekly updates, although case count reporting Monday through Friday is expected to continue with regular situation reports. Wednesday updates from OSDH moving forward will reflect data from the previous week, according to this week's statement. 

“Data transparency has been and will continue to be important to OSDH, no matter the cadence of reporting,” said Stone. 

The dramatic change in reporting comes two weeks after OSDH announced a change to how COVID-19 deaths were reported as state investigation and reporting of COVID-19 deaths was becoming increasingly delayed. Provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics and CDC now reported by OSDH includes death certificates with any mention of COVID-19. 

About 11,400 active cases of COVID-19 were reported in Oklahoma on Wednesday, according to OSDH, the lowest number since September. Oklahoma through Tuesday had confirmed 4,788 deaths linked to the disease while provisional death data from the CDC and NCHS recorded 7,673 deaths through Friday. 

The seven-day average of new daily cases in Oklahoma on Friday fell to 446, the lowest since early July, according to OSDH data compiled by The Ardmoreite. Between Sunday, March 13 and Friday, March 19, Oklahoma recorded 2,500 new cases of COVID-19.  

Oklahoma by Friday had recorded 434,491 total cases of COVID-19 since March 5, 2020. 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. 

Carter County has accounted for at least 5,825 of those cases, according to the most recent county-level data from OSDH on Monday. The seven-day average of new cases in the county on Monday had risen slightly but remained under 10 since March 5. 

The seven-day average of new cases in Carter County peaked at 137 on Jan. 14, according to OSDH data compiled by The Ardmoreite. The health department has reported 63 COVID-19 deaths in Carter County through Monday. 

Carter County has recorded 5,825 cases of COVID-19, with only 98 new cases recorded this month. During a January spike in virus transmission, Carter County averaged more than 130 new cases per day.

According to the OSDH weekly epidemiological report on Wednesday, Oklahoma was 49th in the country — behind only Oregon — for new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents for the seven days through March 15.

Despite the promising figures, CDC data indicated the level of community transmission for COVID-19 in Carter County and 18 other Oklahoma counties still remained high through Tuesday. 

Nearly 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Oklahoma through Wednesday, including over 448,000 complete vaccines from state and federal allotments.  

For most people, the novel 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.