Oklahoma sees rise in COVID cases following reopening


As President Trump prepares to hold his first major election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this weekend, health experts have issued strong warnings about the coronavirus risks posed to attendees as all of Oklahoma sees a rise in cases.

Gov. Kevin Stitt rolled back the state’s coronavirus precautions for businesses on May 1, when the state’s health department said there were 3,748 total cases. As of June 18, there were 8,908 confirmed cases throughout Oklahoma, according to the health department.

Over the last seven weeks, the number of new cases reported daily has been on the rise, according to state health data. During the first week of May, the seven-day average of new daily cases was around 96.6 but by June 17, that average jumped to 203.4, according to the health department.

The state did increase its testing capability and those results show some progress concerning Oklahoma’s positivity rate, the health department data showed. By the end of the first week of May, the state tested 89,857 people and had a positivity rate of about 5.3%, according to the health department. Last week, the state tested 248,091 people and had a positivity rate of approximately 3.7%, the health department said.

The biggest number of cases are in the state’s two largest cities: Oklahoma City and Tulsa, according to health data. Oklahoma City had 1,391 cases while Tulsa had 1,288 cases as of June 18, according to the state’s health department.

On Wednesday, Tulsa Health Department director Dr. Bruce Dart reported that 96 Tulsa County residents tested positive for the coronavirus, which set a new daily record for the city. He warned that large gatherings, like the one scheduled for Saturday by the president, could make the outbreak worse for residents.

“So many people are over COVID, but COVID is not over,” he said at a news conference.

Dart urged the president to reconsider his rally.

“So if we could push it back to when the data tells us it’s safer, that is my recommendation. That is what I personally would like to see happen,” he said.

Tulsa Mayor G. T. Bynum also expressed concern about the rally and said he was not attending. However, he said he would not block it.

Bynum stressed that the increase in cases was likely due to people relaxing their precautions. He urged residents to wear face coverings to prevent the spread.

“Don’t be surprised when you see your numbers increase,” he said at a news conference. “This is about what we do in our daily lives every day.”

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