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OU Chief COVID Officer addresses rise in state coronavirus cases, CDC testing recommendations

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Dale Bratzler (copy)

Dr. Dale Bratzler wears a mask during OU's Aug. 28 COVID-19 update.

OU Medicine officials provided updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in a Friday morning livestream, where they announced just under 5,000 new cases and 69 deaths statewide in the last week.

The end-of-week review was led by OU's Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler. Bratzler said Oklahoma has seen a slight upward trend in the rolling average of new cases and an increase in the percentage of positive tests over the last two weeks, indicating the virus is still spreading locally.

“To me, it highlights that we’re continuing to see community spread of this particular virus,” Bratzler said. 

Bratzler also expressed concern over crowds of students being spotted on Campus Corner and other locations, adding students are still responsible for keeping themselves and others safe as the pandemic continues.

“We’re depending on personal responsibility of 18- to 22-year-olds to make the decisions that will keep them safe and not risk other people,” Bratzler said.

Bratzler said the university would support the use of rapid antigen testing on campus, but he said the state health department reports results from those tests as “probable cases” and not confirmed cases. The university currently only supports the use, tracking and reporting of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith said in an email to The Daily that the university is exploring a number of additional testing options but that no official decisions have been made.

Bratzler also addressed changes to CDC guidelines recommending who should and should not be tested for the virus. The CDC recently changed its recommendations on its website to say that someone who has been exposed to the virus but is not showing symptoms does not have to be tested for the virus.

“The medical community and the public health community all came out very strongly against that position,” Bratzler said. “Those of us in public health feel that if we’re going to contain COVID-19, one of the things that we have to do is identify people who are infected, isolate them and stop the spread of the virus to other people.”

The university announced it will launch a COVID-19 dashboard this week. The dashboard will include Cleveland County and regional area statistics as well as Goddard Health Center results, and it will be updated daily. 

senior news reporter

Jordan Hayden is a journalism junior and a senior news reporter at The Daily. Previously she served as the fall 2018 and spring 2019 assistant engagement editor.

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