The OU COVID-19 dashboard shows about a 15 percent increase in positive tests from the week of Dec. 30 to Jan. 6 as the university prepares to resume classes for the Spring 2022 semester.
According to the dashboard, during the week of Jan. 6-12, positive case numbers have risen to 134 from the previous week’s 36 cases. The 134 positive tests are out of 536 total, meaning 25 percent of COVID-19 tests taken were positive.
On Jan. 12, the seven-day case average in Oklahoma was 7,185 cases. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average positive test rate statewide is almost 34 percent and Oklahoma ranks 27th in the nation in average daily cases as of Jan. 11.
This OU dashboard update follows a Jan. 10 university email from OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler that OU will implement a two-week mask mandate in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases with the omicron variant. Omicron is the “most transmissible variant of the pandemic” out of those documented, Bratzler wrote in the university email.
A university spokesperson wrote that an “ambiguity in the interpretation of what constitutes a public space” allows OU to implement a two-week mandate, despite the institution’s interpretation of Executive Order 2021-16 and Senate Bill 658 as barring it from enacting a general mask mandate.
The OU chapter of the American Association of University Professors wrote that OU administration was being contradictory after “continual claims, assertions, and public relations press releases” throughout last semester that COVID-19 protocols were not possible. OU Law Professor Joseph Thai wrote that the administration “continues to gaslight our community on the legality of mask mandates to excuse its moral and legal failure.”
In his Wednesday live stream, Bratzler said he expects another surge of cases as OU and other schools reopen. A total of 20 public schools — including Norman and Oklahoma City Public Schools — announced temporary closures and transitions to remote learning.
In the university email, Bratzler strongly advised community members to get vaccinated and their booster shots and encouraged meetings, events and classes to be held online “if reasonable.”
After Jan. 31, OU will continue to abide by its fall guidelines, which allow a two-week mask mandate in classrooms with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test. The current mandate for Spring 2022 is only temporary, Bratzler wrote in the announcement, but is subject to change if “additional guidance” is given.