Virus Outbreak Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks Nov. 16 during a news conference in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma’s COVID-19 State of Emergency officially ended Tuesday as the state announced some changes to its pandemic data reporting.

Citing the significant drop in new case counts and deaths statewide and the influx of vaccines being administered across the state, Stitt said Monday it was time for the State of Emergency to be rescinded.

“Because Oklahomans used personal responsibility to protect themselves, their families and our most vulnerable, the data shows COVID-19 is no longer an emergency,” Stitt said. “We were the first state to reopen our economy on June 1, and we are continuing to lead the nation now. More people are getting the vaccine every day, our kids are safely back in school, our businesses are open and thriving and our unemployment rate is better than the national average.”

Reporting from The Frontier this week shows that COVID-related deaths in Oklahoma have plunged in the months following their January peak, especially among elderly and at-risk Oklahomans. As of April 28, there were 985,364 people fully vaccinated in the state.

Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye urged Oklahomans to continue wearing a mask, washing their hands and watching their distance in public spaces to avoid any future spikes.

“Through vaccine distribution and the hard work of Oklahomans across the state, we’ve reached a place where cases are continuing to decline and the spread of COVID-19 is beginning to slow. With case numbers and hospitalizations at a sustained and consistently manageable level, we’re approaching the ‘new normal’ that we’ve been working toward for so long,” Frye said in a news release. “However, we’re not ready to take a victory lap just yet. While we are coming out of the state of emergency, there’s still work to be done to protect ourselves and others from spreading COVID-19, including new variants.”

Following the action from the governor, the Oklahoma State Department of Health Tuesday announced significant changes to how it will move forward with COVID-19 data reporting.

The department will no longer release its daily executive order report, which has kept tabs on hospitalizations, among other things. Some of the executive order report data will instead be released in the department’s daily update, while some will cease to be released.

The department will also “likely” stop releasing its Hospital Surge Tier Report, and will change its Alert Map. Active case calculation will be updated to 14 days post-specimen collection or symptom onset; the department will remove its “currently hospitalized” criteria that was part of the original calculation; and recovered cases will be removed from the state’s data dashboard.

“We remain committed to providing accurate, accessible COVID-19 data and keeping the Oklahoma public informed,” State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone said in a press release. “Data will continue to be accessible on our dashboard at oklahoma.gov/19, and we are closely tracking the information that is crucial to help us mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team will continue to monitor trends and alert Oklahomans if areas of concern begin to arise again.”

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript; reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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Staff Writer

Reese Gorman covers elections, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic for The Norman Transcript. He started as an intern in May of 2020 and transitioned into his current position as a staff writer in August of 2020.