Three Cleveland County residents have now died in relation to COVID-19, the State Department of Health reported Thursday.
There have been seven COVID-19-related deaths in Oklahoma, three of them in Cleveland County. No other Oklahoma county is reporting more deaths than Cleveland County.
A Norman woman in her 60s died Monday, while Norman Mayor Breea Clark announced Wednesday night that she had just been informed of another death in the city. According to the State Department of Health, the county's two newest deaths were a woman in her 90s and a man in his 60s.
The confirmed county case total now stands at 39 cases, up from 27 on Wednesday.
The reported state case total, at 164 Wednesday morning, had risen to 248 by Thursday morning. The state also has 86 people hospitalized, up from 59 hospitalizations Wednesday.
As the state continues to work aggressively with public and private partners to increase testing supplies in Oklahoma, it is likely that the increase in confirmed cases is related to an increase in testing in the state, the State Department of Health reported in a Thursday press release.
State and Norman restrictions on businesses and everyday activities are now in effect as of midnight Wednesday.
Gov. Kevin Stitt's "safer at home" order, which suspends in-person operations for non-essential businesses in counties with confirmed cases, will expand to cover new counties as cases are confirmed, he said Tuesday. Stitt's order also requires that elderly or vulnerable Oklahomans stay home until April 30, and bans in-person gatherings of more than 10 people.
Clark issued new city guidelines Monday — in effect now — that close all non-essential Norman businesses for in-person operations for 21 days, and that asks residents to stay at home unless they must complete an essential activity.
Clark has also issued guidelines limiting organized community gatherings in Norman to no more than 10 people.
Oklahoma, still short on COVID-19 testing kits, is reporting efforts to increase state testing capacity. A spokesperson for Stitt said Tuesday that the state is waiting on a "significant order" of testing supplies that officials expect to come in by week's end.
The state is also working to open satellite testing locations in Oklahoma, Tulsa, Kay and Pittsburg counties, two of which are set to get started today.
Oklahoma has partnered with Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma LLC to process hundreds of tests, and has authorized labs at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University to start testing as soon as they are able.
Still, without an adequate supply of testing kits, health officials have warned that Oklahoma is likely experiencing an undetected spread of the virus that's not reflected in state numbers. The state is prioritizing testing for its most at-risk residents, including individuals ages 60 or older, people with compromised immune systems and any group of individuals — like a nursing home — that is experiencing symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging everyone to practice social distancing to slow COVID-19's spread and reduce the risk of infection for vulnerable groups. The CDC asks that people keep their distance from large gatherings, keep at least six feet away from others if they have to go out, work on communicating with others virtually or without seeing them in-person, and stay home if they experience symptoms or feel sick.
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those with symptoms or who suspect they may have been in contact with an infected person can call the Oklahoma Health Department's Coronavirus Hotline at 2-1-1.
Health professionals are urging the public to take precautions like frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, covering sneezes and coughs with an elbow or tissue, avoiding touching the face, staying home when possible and avoiding contact with those who are sick.