Some days it’s difficult to grasp how Oklahoma is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. On the one hand, you have a governor who apparently believes that we have 5,000 hospital beds and the curve is remaining flat along with a state-wide COVID-19 Alert System published by the State Department of Health that places even the worst Oklahoma counties for COVID-19 in the “moderate zone” for outbreak levels. On the other hand, you have the White House Coronavirus Task Force calling Stitt out for reportedly ignoring evidenced-based guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus, Dr. Brix coming to town to tell us how bad we’re doing, and cases rising in this state by thousands each week for the last two months.
Every politician, media personality, and Facebook acquaintance seems to have an opinion on how Oklahoma is handling the pandemic. But it’s hard to argue with data (most of the time). So here are the REAL COVID-19 numbers Oklahomans should be worried about!
The number of Oklahomans who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of August 5th. Despite our esteemed governor giving himself a pat on the back on live TV for the bang-up job he believes he doing leading Oklahomans through the pandemic, our state has had about 18% more cases over the last week than New York, a state which has nearly 5x Oklahoma’s population.
The number of shelter-in-place and mask mandates that have been handed down by Governor Stitt, even though Oklahoma’s rates are still rising and he himself contracted COVID-19
The approximate number of Oklahomans who filed for unemployment the last week of July. Along with cases increasing by the thousands every week and deaths creeping skyward, Oklahoma’s standard of living seems to have gone down since the advent of the pandemic. For example, the previous record for unemployment in Oklahoma was set in 1991 at 9,788 claims. That record has been shattered multiple times since March of this year, with a peak in June when over 180,000 Oklahomans filed for unemployment.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, the number of Oklahomans who have supposedly, “recovered” from COVID-19 as of August 5th.
The number of weeks post-positive COVID-19 test that the state of Oklahoma dictates you are “recovered” enough to be reflected in their success statistics. As long as you aren’t dead, that is. It seems really lazy to apply the 2 week benchmark to all these cases because…
The approximate number of weeks the World Health Organization suggests it takes severe and critical cases to recover from COVID-19. To be fair, the WHO states that mild to moderate cases usually recover within 2 weeks. But the problem is, Oklahoma seems to be applying the 2 week standard to all cases, which is problematic.
Through the Ogle Mole Network, we interviewed an Oklahoma-based epidemiologist and asked her opinions on the state’s classification of who is considered to be “recovered from COVID-19. This was her response.
“The way the recovered cases are reported implies the case is 100% back to normal, which is misleading. COVID-19 patients are no longer infectious when they are noted to be “recovered” according to CDC definition – but to call them recovered is a load of crap. Many of these “recovered” patients may still be acutely ill. Some “recovered” cases end up readmitted to the hospital, and some even end up dying.
Many continue to report symptoms weeks after their so called “recovery” and many continue to test positive. If it were up to me, I’d notate patients as “non-infectious” which is helpful for disease modeling but does not imply these cases are back to normal.”
The weekly average number of hours a nurse we interviewed through the Ogle Mole Network says she and her coworkers are working in the COVID-19 unit of a large metro hospital. She also gave us insight on how severe this illness can be.
“A big problem is they are not feeling SHOB (shortness of breath) when they have oxygen saturations in the 80% [reference range is 90-100% for an adequate O2 saturation], so they don’t always realize how sick they are until their condition is severe. They have lately been coming to us more and more sick. It’s hitting vulnerable populations hard… Even younger people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s are coming in more sick.
Young people thinking it’s okay for them not to wear a mask because they won’t get sick doesn’t mean they won’t give COVID to their parents and grandparents. Also, young adults are not guaranteed to not end up on a ventilator themselves. And we’re keeping more and more sick people on non-acute care floors with short staff because our ICUs and step-downs are too full to take them.”
The number of Oklahomans who have sadly lost their lives to COVID-19.
The number of f*cks Oklahoma’s most powerful are giving about Oklahoma’s most vulnerable.
Even though our State Department of Health’s website considers even the most hard-hit counties to be in the “moderate” zone for COVID-19 risk and rates, data from The Harvard Global Health Institute shows many Oklahoma counties to be in the highest risk for COVID-19 outbreaks. From active COVID-19 rates to hospital capacity, it’s beginning to look like our state government is working with the wrong data set.
Because our esteemed leaders are not taking the initiative needed to put mandates in place that would ACTUALLY sink the curve of this virus, the pandemic is wreaking havoc on Oklahoma’s economy, health, and livelihood. By failing to promptly connect struggling Oklahomans with unemployment benefits and apparently bragging about the imaginary hospital capacity that Oklahoma just doesn’t have, our government seems to be more concerned with looking good than doing good.