COVID-19 In Oklahoma: Everything We Know

Updated March 16 at 2:57 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is authorizing the following facilities to restrict visitation as they deem necessary to protect against the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Nursing facilities
  • Assisted living centers
  • Residential care facilities
  • Adult day care centers
  • Intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • Hospitals
  • Other medical facilities or congregate living settings which house or serve vulnerable populations
  • City and county detention facilities.

Updated March 16 at 11:45 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has confirmed 10 positive cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma. The OSDH advises anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fever or coughing, to stay home and limit person-to-person engagement.

The counties that have one positive case of COVID-19 include Canadian, Cleveland, Jackson, Kay and Payne. Oklahoma County has two confirmed cases and Tulsa County has three cases. 

There have been 174 cases that tested negative. 

Updated March 16 at 10:26 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

Governor Kevin Stitt announced the return of the 26 Oklahomans who were quarantined aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship and at U.S. military bases.

"These passengers were all asymptomatic before being allowed to come home, and our state health department officials will ensure they have the resources they need while resting at home and recovering from this stressful experience," Governor Stitt said in a press release. 

The 2,400 passengers aboard the cruise ship were taken to military bases located in California, Georgia and Texas. The state of Oklahoma chartered planes and buses to bring the Oklahomans on board back from their various locations. The first passengers arrived back in the state late Saturday and the remainder arrived on Sunday. 

The effort to get the passengers back to Oklahoma was a collaboration between state officials and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The 26 Oklahomans are not symptomatic and will remain quarantined at home for 14 days with monitoring by local health officials. 

Commissioner of Health, Gary Cox, says there were only two confirmed cases of COVID-19 of the 3,500 total people on the cruise ship. 

Updated March 15 at 9:36 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

The University of Oklahoma has closed its Norman campus through March 20 after a member of that campus community tested positive for COVID-19. 

In a statement issued to staff and faculty, Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. told non-essential employees not to report to work. 

During the closure, the campus will employ a contractor who specials in critical cleaning functions to deep clean the impacted areas of campus using disinfectants that kill the virus. 

Residential housing will remain open during the closing, but Harroz encouraged students who already departed for spring break to stay away.

The OU Health Sciences Center and OU-Tulsa campuses will remain open, but employees are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing, hand hygiene and covering of coughs and sneezes.

In Stillwater, Oklahoma State University announced a reduction in services following the disaster declarations for the City of Stillwater and the State of Oklahoma. A statement released from OSU Sunday night said, "After consulting with Payne County health officials, Oklahoma State University will begin limiting access to high-traffic areas."

This is effective Monday, March 16 and includes the closure of the Colvin Recreation Center, the OSU Museum of Art and a reduction of Student Union dining services to 'to-go' only. 

Employees were still asked to report to work as planned until OSU determines next steps forward. Employees are, however, encouraged to practice social distancing. This includes reducing or eliminating in-person meetings and allowing six feet of distance from other people. 

Updated March 15 at 8:36 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma is under a state of emergency following an eighth case of coronavirus being confirmed by Governor Kevin Stitt, along with the first case of community spread being discovered in Oklahoma City.

The governor declared a state of emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties on Sunday.

"While impact in Oklahoma has continued to be relatively minimal to date, it is increasingly important for Oklahoma to be ready for this threat," Stitt wrote in his order.

The 30-day executive order encourages state agencies to create work-from-home policies for their employees. Those in need of state services are encouraged to request help through online means, rather than in-person visits.

Updated March 15 at 5:39 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

This afternoon, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt announced he will sign a proclamation of a state of emergency in the City of Oklahoma City on Monday.

The decision comes after the discovery of possible COVID-19 community spread in the metro.

The Oklahoma City Metro Library announces all of its facilities are closing for two weeks.

Updated March 15 at 3:56 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

More information is emerging about the new patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. Rebecca Faulker, M.D. based in Warr Acres posted the following on Facebook.

"The first patient that I tested on Thursday when I received COVID test kits came back with results today and tested POSITIVE. This patient has asked me to inform the public," she said. "This patient had NO travel and NO sick contacts. This means that the virus has been actively circulating in OKC for at least one week."

Dr. Faulkner went on to say that she encourages the community to take hygiene and social distancing instructions and take the spread of the disease seriously.

One of the new cases is based in Payne County. Oklahoma State University released a statement Sunday afternoon saying that OSU health officials have been in contact with the Payne County Health Department.

"We have been advised by their health director that the individual is not affiliated with the OSU campus community and has been quarantined at this time," the statement said.

The City of Stillwater also released a statement responding to the Payne County case.

"We do our best to keep the public informed and make the best decisions we can," said Norman McNickle, Stillwater City Manager. "We are monitoring the situation closely."

McNickle went on to encourage residents to follow the hygience and social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. He also said the City of Stillwater will continue to provide essential services and community support through "thoughtful planning for several impact scenarios during this heightened public health risk.

The City of Stillwater is indefinitely closing the Senior Activity Center and encouraging faith-based groups to postpone or cancel in-person gatherings.

Updated March 15 at 12:28 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

Three new individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the state's total number of cases to seven. The new cases are in Cleveland, Payne and Tulsa counties.

According to a release from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the county health departments for the new positive cases are working to determine what other people had close contact with these individuals and the need for further testing. 

Updated March 14 at 7:03 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) released a statement late Saturday afternoon that said the state's public health agency is working to ensure better access to testing but did not provide details about what that meant.

OSDH also said it had authorized hospitals, nursing facilities, assisted living centers and jails to restrict visitors. Many of these organizations including the Oklahoma Department of Corrections had done so prior to the release of this statement.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management announced the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to provide working capital for small businesses suffering economic injury because of the Coronavirus. The funding will be provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was signed into law by President Donald Trump.
 

Officials at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum have announced that the Memorial Marathon has been postponed until Sunday, October 4, 2020. Race registrations are not refundable but can be transferred to the new date. 

In addition, officials at the Museum say the 25th annual remembrance ceremony on April 19, 2020 will be altered in some fashion due to concerns about COVID-19. The new information will be communicated to family members, survivors and first responders directly as the date approaches. 

The Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum is also temporarily closed. A reopening date has not been announced.

Updated March 14 at 4:55 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

Churches around Oklahoma have canceled or scaled back services for Sunday, March 15. However, Oklahoma's Attorney General Mike Hunter issued a statement Saturday, March 14 saying that even though churches are canceling, there is nothing that currently allows the state or local government to force such closures.

"Consistent with state and federal legal safeguards, church services across the state can go on as normal unless they are postponed or rescheduled by the church itself," Hunter said. "If the situation were to ever become so dire that church services needed to be cancelled by the government, all similarly sized and situated gatherings would also need to be cancelled as well."

Hunter went on to say that if people do attend Sunday church services, they should exercise good judgment, common sense and hygiene practices as directed by the Centers for Disease Control and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Oklahoma County. The patient is a woman in her 60s who recently traveled to Florida. She is in isolation at home, and public health officials are doing an investigation to find people she was recently in contact with. However, they note that this case is unrelated to other cases reported in the state and is not a sign of community spread.

The newest patient brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma to four. The state's count does not count the presumptive positive tests for two players from the Utah Jazz that prompted the suspension of the National Basketball Association's season on Wednesday, March 11.

Officials acknowledge that testing for the virus has been limited in Oklahoma. In a situation update Friday night, they say they have 500 tests in the state with more on the way, but it is unclear when additional tests will arrive. They say this increase in the number of tests will allow for slightly wider parameters of patient testing, but it is still limited. 

President Trump announced Friday that drive-thru testing units would open at some Target and CVS stores, but as of this posting, no stores in Oklahoma have been identified to perform these tests.

The federal disaster declaration made by President Trump and the Centers for Disease Control on Friday will allow for additional federal funding to come to Oklahoma, but state officials have not been notified how much Oklahoma will receive in its allocation.

If you have plans to go somewhere this week, it is a good idea to call ahead. Some organizations, such as the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, that had previously announced they would remain open with additional precaustions have now announced they will be closed until April 1.

Updated March 13 at 6:28 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma's price gouging statute, or the Emergency Price Stablization Act, is in effect following President Donald Trump's emergency delaration of COVID-19. 

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced the statute, which automatically triggers after a state or federal emergency is issued,  prohibits an increase of more than 10% for the price of goods or services. 

"I encourage Oklahomans to remain calm but cautious during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic," Hunter said in a press release Friday. "Don't pay inflated prices for things like hand sanitizer, paper towels or other products and services that are becoming sparse."

Hunter said to contact his office if anyone encounters price gouging, fraudulent charities or other deceptive business practices. You can contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit by phone at 405-521-2029 or email them at consumerprotection@oag.ok.gov. 

Updated March 13 at 5:11 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden will be temporarily closed, effective Saturday, March 14, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Zoo tentatively plans to reopen to the public on Monday, March 23.

OKC Zoo day camps scheduled for Spring Break between Monday, March 16 and Friday, March 20, and the Zoo’s preschool program, Nature Explorers, will also be cancelled. Registered participants will receive complete refunds.

Oklahoma State University is cancelling all university-affiliated study abroad, exchange, internship, service learning, research, or other international travel events planned for this summer. OSU officials say they are taking this step now due to the rapidly evolving nature of the situation and so students can adjust their academic schedules accordingly.

The Stillwater Senior Activity Center will be closed indefinitely starting Monday, March 16. The City of Stillwater will also work closely with Project Heart, Mobile Meals and other local organizations to ensure vulnerable populations continue to receive adequate nutrition.

Updated March 13 at 3:56 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is canceling all visitation and all volunteer access to facilities effective at 6 p.m. today. This decision was made to keep staff, inmates and volunteers safe from the spread of COVID-19 inside the facilities.

DOC says they are taking several proactive preventative steps, including screening all new inmate arrivals for symptoms of COVID-19 and suspending all inmate security movements, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis.

The department says they will reassess the situation weekly to see if the cancelation of visitations should continue.

Updated 3:27 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

More businesses in Oklahoma are canceling public events due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • All jury trials in Tulsa county for March 30 and April 13 are now canceled.
  • The Cherokee Nation has canceled or postponed dozens of events throughout March and into April.
  • The Metropolitan Library System has cancelled all events, programs, and meetings throughout the month of March.
  • Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa will close until further notice.
  • The monthly Heard on Hurd street festival in Edmond has been postponed. RiverSport Adventures in Oklahoma City will delay opening until at least after spring break.
  • St. Patrick's Day events have been canceled at The Jones Assembly in Oklahoma City and similar events have been postponed at Arnie’s Bar, Kilkenny’s and McNellie’s in Tulsa.
  • Several more concerts have been postponed or rescheduled, including Willie Nelson at Riverwind Casino in Norman, LCG & the X’s album release show at 51st Street Speakeasy in Oklahoma City, Mt. Joy at Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City, White Reaper, BOYO, Great Grandpa and more at 89th Street in Oklahoma City, all March dates at The Blue Door in Oklahoma City, Beau Jennings’ album release show at Prairie House in Norman, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real at Cain’s Ballroom at the end of April.
  • KOSU’s own Public Radio Music Day celebration in Oklahoma City on April 16 has also been postponed.

Updated March 13 at 8:45 a.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

The first person to test positive for the coronavirus in Oklahoma has recovered.

According to the Tulsa Health Department, the man in his 50s who had recently returned from a visit to Italy has had two negative tests – an indicator of recovery.

Two other Oklahomans have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 since the first confirmed case was announced last week.

State officials are urging people to stay away from sick patients, frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Factory Obscura is closing the Mix-Tape experience through Wednesday, March 18.

Updated 9:53 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

County health departments do not have the ability to test for COVID-19 according to a statement released Thursday by the Oklahoma Health Department. In an earlier press conference, Gary Cox, director of the the Oklahoma Health Department said the state only has the ability to test 100 people per day.

Oklahoma's health agency issued the following advice if people suspect they have the virus:

Any individual who develops symptoms such as fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing and has been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or has recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 should contact their health care provider or the COVID-19 hotline at 877-215-8336 for recommendations.

Before going to a doctor's office, call ahead and discuss symptoms. If you are sick with a fever or cough and have a higher risk for complictions from severe respiratory infections (age 60+, have a chronic medical condition or are pregnant), call your health care provider and ask if you need to be evaluated in person. Other people with mild illness who are concerned about their health can call their health care provider to discuss COVID-19 testing and other possible reasons for their illness. 

The health care provider, in consultation with public health officials will determine if the individual meets proper case definition that warrants testing. The testing is coordinated by the health provider. 

Other closures and cancellations announced Thursday night include the following:

Norman Music Festival, which was scheduled for April has been postponed to August 27-29.

Oklahoma State University announced it is joining other Big 12 schools in suspending all regular season competitions, all on-and-off-campus recruiting activities and practices for all out-of-season sports. Sports that are in-season may continue to practice. Everything will be re-evaluated on March 29.

Organizers for the Tulsa St. Patrick's Day Celebration and downtown block party have announced all activities are canceled. 

Updated 3:56 p.m. This post will be updated as we learn more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

Even though there are just three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma, state leaders are suggesting that school districts stay vigilant and be prepped for a potential closure.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister urged school district leaders to take caution and use “common sense.”

“We are working with our schools all across our state to evaluate the developing situation on a day-by-day basis,” Stitt said. “We want to stress that at this time it is important that we remain calm and be judicious in decisions to close schools and business. It is the state’s recommendation that schools remain open.”

“We truly are all in this together,” Hofmeister said. “Our educators care deeply about our students and their families. And I know that their well-being is of paramount importance.” 

Hofmeister said students and their families should be particularly careful while traveling during Spring Break next week.

“Individuals returning from travel to China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan or any other Level 2 or 3 country as identified by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should self-quarantine for a period of 14 days before returning to school,” an advisory from Hofmeister to districts said.

Hofmeister and other state leaders are meeting regularly to monitor coronavirus and will keep district superintendents informed as the situation develops but the ultimate decision to close will be up to local school boards. 

ORIGINAL POST:

 

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister speak at a press conference on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Credit Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma has three confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Governor Kevin Stitt held a press conference March 12 to discuss the state of the coronavirus in Oklahoma.

 

Stitt said there is no community spread in the Oklahoma.

 

Officials are advising against all cruise travel. Older adults and individuals with chronic illnesses should avoid all non-essential air travel as they are at higher risk.

 

All Oklahomans are advised to take social distancing precautions such as implementing remote work and avoiding large social gatherings when possible.

 

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall says the state capitol will remain open.

 

 

NBA: 

The National Basketball Association is suspending its regular season. The hiatus comes as two players on the Utah Jazz preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. 

The first player’s test results came back just before the Jazz were set to tip-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 11. The affected player was not in Chesapeake Energy Arena, but players from both teams were held in their locker rooms and members of the Jazz were tested for the virus. One of those players was confirmed to have tested positive Thursday morning.

 

ESPN reports Thunder players and staff will be tested for the virus at the direction of the state department of health. They have been advised to self-quarantine for a period of 24 hours.

 

The March 11 game was delayed for thirty-five minutes, before arena officials announced the game had been postponed and told the crowd to exit the arena.

 

Oklahoma Schools Respond to COVID-19:

 

Oklahoma City Public Schools canceled class and district-hosted activities March 13. The decision will use the CDC-recommended social distancing method to prevent community spread of the coronavirus disease 2019. 

 

The largest school district in the state says they do not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19. Oklahoma City Public School officials say the closure will allow teams to complete “deep cleaning of buses and school buildings” moving into Spring Break. 

 

The school district plans to have students return to classes on March 23rd. OKCPS has also canceled all scheduled events and activities on March 12.

 

Moore Public Schools has also announced it will be closed on March 13, and the Edmond and Tulsa districts have canceled all out-of-state trips through early April.

 

Mid-Del schools have also closed on March 13 due to a large amount of anticipated absenses. School officials say the closure will not extend the school year. They also say Mid-Del facilities will be closed as they monitor developments of COVID-19.

 

Several Oklahoma colleges and universities are transitioning to online learning or extending Spring Break due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

Both Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma are moving classes online two weeks after spring break - beginning March 23 through April 3. The universities both say there are no known cases of COVID-19 on their campuses. 

 

The University of Tulsa has also moved classes online to implement a new social distancing policy. 

 

Also, the University of Central Oklahoma has extended their spring break another week as the school prepares for their own preventative measures. 

 

The OSSAA has postponed all the state high school basketball tournaments until further notice. They will update the OSSAA website as to when the tournaments will be rescheduled.

 

 

State Agencies Responses to COVID-19:

 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health put out Spring Break travel advisory. Officials recommend people avoid non-essential travel to those countries with a CDC travel advisory - including China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. 

 

State health officials also recommend avoiding travel to Japan if you are an older adult or have any chronic health conditions.  

 

Before traveling for Spring Break, OSDH said to establish a protocol with your employer before you travel in case you return to a situation where quarantine would be necessary. These protocols could include bringing a work laptop and necessary work materials home. 

 

OSDH also recommends focusing on prevention methods when you are traveling during Spring Break. 

 

If you return from a place with travel restrictions and are experiencing flu-like symptoms the OSDH encourages you to self-quarantine for 14 days and to report any concerning symptoms to a health care provider or call the OSDH Call Center at 877-215-8336. 

 

COVID-19 Impacts On Oklahoma Events: 

 

Events across Oklahoma, and affecting Oklahomans, are being canceled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 

The Big 12 men's and women's basketball tournaments were called off March 12.

The Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City has been canceled.

 

The opening of Oklahoma Contemporary's new home in downtown Oklahoma City has been delayed.

 

Students already at state basketball tournaments are being sent home.

 

The Medieval Fair, one of the largest weekend events in Norman, has also been canceled this year.

 

Cher’s concert at Chesapeake Energy Arena will not proceed tonight.

 

Michael Buble's April 3 concert at Chesapeake Energy Arena is postponed.

 

The KISS Farewell Tour concert scheduled at the BOK Center in Tulsa is also being rescheduled.

 

The Chickasaw Nation has canceled all public events through March 22.  

 

The Mid-South Gravel Bicycle Race slated for Stillwater and Payne County on March 13 and 14 has announced changes for its finish line celebration. More than 3,000 people from all 50 states and several countries were registered to attend. Organizers are offering deferrals for people who want to cancel and they are recommending people who do attend avoid human contact. As of Thursday, most international participants had already canceled.

 

Oklahoma Business Closures: 

 

Businesses are also responding with closures.

 

COOP Ale Works, a brewer in Oklahoma City, announced on March 12 that it is closing its taproom out of an abundance of caution.

 

 

Guidelines from the CDC:

 

The Centers for Disease Control said you can protect yourself from COVID-19 by washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds - especially after being in a public area or blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

 

You can also use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% of alcohol if soap and water are not readily available. 

 

Also, the CDC said to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 

 

For protecting others around you - the CDC recommends staying home if you're sick, unless you are seeking medical care. You also should cover coughs and sneezes, wear a facemask if you're sick and clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces daily. 

 

You can learn more about prevention tips from the CDC here.

 

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If you have questions or information about how COVID-19 has impacted you or your community - let us know by texting 'KOSU' to 405-351-6049.