Active virus cases in Carter County fall to eight-month low

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

As state reporting methods for COVID-19 data again changed this week, active cases of the disease in Carter County last week plunged to the lowest level in over eight months. Gov. Kevin Stitt allowed the state of emergency brought on by the pandemic to expire this week and vaccinations continue across Oklahoma. 

“Through vaccine distribution and the hard work of Oklahomans across the state, we’ve reached a place where cases are continuing to decline and the spread of COVID-19 is beginning to slow. With case numbers and hospitalizations at a sustained and consistently manageable level, we’re approaching the ‘new normal’ that we’ve been working toward for so long,” said state Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye in a Tuesday statement. 

His hopeful message was coupled with the warning that the coronavirus continues to pose a risk despite the promising epidemiological data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health this week. 

“While we are coming out of the state of emergency, there’s still work to be done to protect ourselves and others from spreading COVID-19, including new variants,” said Frye. 

Oklahoma on Thursday reported a seven-day average of 212 new cases of the disease, the lowest average since June. Oklahoma's has recorded 449.414 total cases of the disease during the pandemic, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. 

OSDH on Thursday reported 20 additional COVID-19 deaths. The state's death toll, based on provisional deaths as tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stands at 8,321 while OSDH has confirmed 6,832 deaths linked to the disease. 

Health officials said on Tuesday that OSDH will change how some COVID-19 data is reported and tracked as a result of Stitt’s executive order expiring. OSDH said the agency will consolidate some data reporting into daily situation updates but tracking of hospital beds, personal protective equipment and hospital surge tier reports is expected to end. 

The state’s top epidemiologist said much of the data will remian on the OSDH COVID-19 dashboard online and that public health workers continue tracking information to montior pandemic trends and have the capability to warn Oklahomans if concerns rise again. 

“We remain committed to providing accurate, accessible COVID-19 data and keeping the Oklahoma public informed,” said State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone on Tuesday. 

Carter County has recorded 6,111 total cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic after 20 new cases were recorded last week, according to OSDH. The number of active cases fell sharply from 145 reported on April 28 to only 38 reported on Wednesday, the lowest number of active cases in the county since Sept. 4. 

Julie Williamson, public information officer for OSDH District 8 that includes Carter County, said that the drop is likely related to both the shift in data reporting and fewer tests. 

“I believe the data is accurate based on what is reported in the system,” she said on Thursday. “Just can’t be 100% certain that all of the healthcare providers are submitting their positive results to the state.” 

The number of deaths OSDH has linked to the pandemic in Carter County was revised down to 107 last week, one fewer than what was reported the week prior. 

Even as the governor’s emergency declaration expires and case numbers continue to plummet locally, Frye said the pandemic is not over and that many individual precautions should still be taken. 

“I urge all Oklahomans to keep following the three W’s (wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance) in public spaces and exercising caution as we work to vaccinate more people," said Frye.