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Norman amid coronavirus: Cleveland County COVID-19 death toll at 32, statewide cases at 4,330

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An additional COVID-19-related death was reported in Cleveland County, and the total cases statewide are now 4,330.

State cases increased to 4,330 from 4,201 Wednesday, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. An additional seven deaths were reported statewide.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, county case numbers were not updated from Wednesday.

The state death toll is now 260, while the Cleveland County death toll is 32, according to Wednesday’s numbers and a press release from the OSDH.

Two of the seven deaths reported Thursday occurred over the past 24 hours, and the other five between April 20 and May 5, according to a press release from the OSDH. 

Five of the seven deaths occurred in the 65 and older age group: a Cleveland County man, a Delaware County man, a Wagoner County woman and two Washington County men, according to the release. The other two deaths occurred in the 50-64 age group: a Wagoner County woman and a Washington County woman.

According to Wednesday’s executive order report, 106 individuals were hospitalized, down from 110 Monday, with 59 in the ICU, which decreased from 70 Monday. Of the 4,201 cases Wednesday, 17.5 percent or 734 cases were reported by individuals working in or having direct patient care in a health care or long-term care setting. 

The OSDH upgraded its COVID-19 data dashboard to now include the historical number of active and recovered COVID-19 cases, along with the historical number of COVID-19-related deaths in each county, according to a press release. 

The data can be viewed by scrolling to the bottom of the OSDH’s home page, clicking “OSDH District Breakout,” selecting a district and clicking on the ellipses for more information, according to the release. 

According to the release, the new county data shows the onset of the coronavirus, such as when an individual begins experiencing symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, and gives an expanded view of the virus’ impact in each community. 

Cleveland County is in the OSDH’s District 6, and the new data shows the peak number of recovered cases, meaning they were not hospitalized or dead 14 days after symptom onset, on April 2, and the peak number of active cases on April 29.

Across Oklahoma’s over 80 COVID-19 test sites, over 3,700 specimens have been collected on average every day this week, according to the release. 

“Our primary responsibility through this pandemic is to provide the most robust and accurate data possible to help public officials and Oklahomans make informed decisions impacting their health and safety,” Gary Cox, OSDH commissioner, said in the release. “We will continue to seek ways to expand the data we provide while learning and gaining valuable new insights as the situation develops.”

Background on the state, city and university response to COVID-19

According to the OSDH, on April 28 Gov. Kevin Stitt called for all COVID-19 testing locations and providers to expand access to all Oklahomans who desire to be tested, even without demonstrating symptoms. 

Norman Mayor Breea Clark also released her three-phase Healthier at Home initiative to reopen Norman on April 28, which includes the reopening of dining areas of restaurants — by reservation only while following social distancing and sanitation guidelines — along with retail stores, which will be able to reopen at with capacity limited to 35 percent on May 1. Norman’s three-phase plan is currently targeted to continue until August 1, the goal date for all restrictions to be lifted.

On April 24, interim OU President Joseph Harroz announced in an email that OU plans to return in-person operations this fall, though safety-oriented changes will be made to classes, housing and other operations. OU had moved classes online for the rest of the spring semester and summer session in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and the campus was closed over spring break

On April 22, Stitt announced Oklahoma’s three-phase plan to reopen the state, with the first phase beginning on April 24 to reopen personal care businesses. The second portion of the phase began on May 1, which allows restaurant dining rooms, movie theaters, sporting venues, gyms and places of worship to operate with continued social distancing protocols.

Clark also announced on April 22 that the city’s current regulations will stay in place until April 30 despite Stitt’s decision.

The OSDH is partnering with OU and Oklahoma State University to offer additional testing sites in Tulsa, and information for the OSU site can be found here. Information about the OU-Tulsa site is available here. OU’s Goddard Health Center will offer drive-thru testing beginning Monday, April 20. 

A more complete list of drive-thru testing options can be found here.

On April 15, Stitt said in a press conference that the COVID-19 curve is flattening in Oklahoma, and the state is working on preparations to reopen in the coming weeks with the advice of public health officials.

Stitt extended his “Safer-at-Home” order for vulnerable populations until May 6, but all other executive orders are set to expire April 30, and the state is working on developing guidelines to safely reopen restaurants and nonessential businesses. The governor also moved up his original date for resuming elective surgeries to April 24, rather than April 30, as he said some hospitals have struggled with low demand. 

On April 2, Stitt declared a statewide health emergency pending legislature confirmation and held a press conference in which he discussed state government efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, and his visit with a Norman company working to create an antibody test.

Stitt and Commissioner of Health Gary Cox encouraged health care providers and testing centers to loosen testing requirements and offer testing to any Oklahoman with COVID-19 symptoms. Cox released a public letter March 30 announcing that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, or those that have been in direct contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, can be tested starting that week. 

The university has announced that two OU community members have tested positive for COVID-19. Across the Norman area, many events have been postponed or canceled

On April 2, summer classes were moved online, and the university suspended in-person events through July 31. Virtual commencement was announced as well, with a date for rescheduled in-person graduation ceremonies in August.

On March 13, Clark declared a state of emergency for Norman. Bars and restaurants were required to close any seating areas for patrons on March 18, with the exception of takeout and delivery services. 

On March 22, Clark increased coronavirus-related regulations, limiting gatherings to 10 people and closing additional businesses.

The OSDH urges Oklahomans to follow Gov. Kevin Stitt’s “Safer-at-Home” executive order which encourages those who are immunocompromised and over the age of 65 to stay home until May 6, according to the release. The order also calls for non-essential businesses in counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases to temporarily close until April 30.

OSDH also encourages all Oklahomans to stay home, wash hands frequently, avoid touching the face, reduce social contact and to isolate for 14 days if sick. If an individual begins experiencing COVID-19 symptoms — including fever, cough or shortness of breath — contact a medical professional or call the COVID-19 call center at 877-215-8336 or 211 for assistance.

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