COVID-19 case numbers inch up in Osage County

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Emergency Management Director Jerry Roberts on June 21 told county commissioners that COVID-19 is slowly on the rise again.

Roberts said the weekly statistic for active COVID-19 cases throughout the county had been increasing, with the two most recent figures being 22 cases and 48 cases.

”I still think we’re in good shape,” Roberts said, emphasizing there is no cause for alarm yet. He recommended, however, that disinfection activities be ramped up slightly in the county courthouse in Pawhuska, and in other county buildings.

”I’m good with that,” District 3 Commissioner Darren McKinney said. There was no official vote by the commissioners to take any action, but Roberts’ recommendation appeared to have the board’s support.

Roberts told the Journal-Capital later that disinfection in the courthouse and other buildings had not stopped, but the amount of activity had decreased as the virus had ceased to be as much of a threat.

Roberts also said that symptoms of COVID-19 currently seem far less severe than previously, and there appear to be far fewer hospitalizations.

”We’re just going to pick it up a little bit,” Roberts said of his intent to see that more disinfectant use takes place in county buildings. “I am hoping it doesn’t jump up to big numbers.”

Roberts acknowledged that public attendance at area sporting events for children appears to have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“The bleachers at the ballparks are full again,” Roberts said.

“I don’t want to see us go back,” he said regarding the possible imposition of more stringent restrictions if case numbers surge.

In other discussion June 21 regarding the ongoing effort to respond effectively to COVID-19, the commissioners voted 3-to-0 to extend through Dec. 31 the availability of emergency paid sick leave that they provided to county employees.

This is sick leave over and beyond the normal allowance. Each county employee received an extra 80 hours of sick leave, especially to help them cope with the possibility of being infected with COVID-19.

County Clerk Robin Slack said that the availability of the COVID-19 sick leave would have expired at the end of June if no action was taken.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported June 23 that during the week of June 12-18, there were 5,009 new cases reported statewide. There were 9,265 total active COVID-19 cases that week in Oklahoma, the OSDH said. The number of active cases statewide for the previous week had been 7,438.

The agency added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics provisional COVID-19 death count for Oklahoma was 16,145 as of June 3.