COVID-19 cases surge 47.4% in Oklahoma

Mike Stucka
Associate Director of Pharmacy Ariane Schieber measures a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as frontline workers received second doses Tuesday at Ohio State University's East Hospital.

New coronavirus cases leaped in Oklahoma in the week ending Saturday, rising 47.4% as 28,820 cases were reported. The previous week had 19,547 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Oklahoma ranked No. 3 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,698,484 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 18% from the week before. Across the country, 46 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Testing has changed around the holidays, making comparisons difficult. Labs and testing sites closed. People traveled or prepared for the holidays instead of getting tested. Some counties and states didn't report data as quickly.

Within Oklahoma, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Carter, Harmon and Love counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Oklahoma County, with 5,159 cases; Tulsa County, with 4,530 cases; and Cleveland County, with 1,997. Weekly case counts rose in 65 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Oklahoma, Tulsa and Carter counties.

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The share of Oklahoma test results that came back positive was 21.4% in the latest week, compared with 19.7% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 134,418 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 99,193. Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

Across Oklahoma, cases fell in 12 counties, with the best declines in Woods, Grady and Kiowa counties.

In Oklahoma, 211 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Saturday. In the week before that, 170 people were reported dead.

A total of 324,875 people in Oklahoma have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 2,738 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 22,132,396 people have tested positive and 372,428 people have died.