New COVID-19 cases plummet in Oklahoma

Mike Stucka

Oklahoma reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 18,111 new cases. That's down 23.3% from the previous week's toll of 23,617 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Oklahoma ranked No. 6 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 1,190,227 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of -22% from the week before. Across the country, 1 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Across Oklahoma, cases fell in 68 counties, with the best declines in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Carter counties.

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The share of Oklahoma test results that came back positive was 16.8% in the latest week, compared with 18.9% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 107,825 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 124,701. 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.

Within Oklahoma, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Murray, Kay and Pontotoc ​counties​. Adding the most new cases overall were Oklahoma County, with 3,610 cases; Tulsa County, with 3,019 cases; and Cleveland County, with 1,487. Weekly case counts rose in eight counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Payne, Haskell and Coal counties.

In Oklahoma, 292 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 226 people were reported dead.

A total of 373,090 people in Oklahoma have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 3,279 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 25,127,000 people have tested positive and 419,214 people have died.

ICU nurse Abbey Malone asks a COVID-19 patient to wiggle her toes to assess her recovery before removing her breathing tube at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, Iowa, on Dec. 7, 2020.