OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Several local leaders are speaking out about the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s decision to no longer release county-level COVID-19 cases and deaths on the OSDH dashboard daily.
“Frankly, I find it embarrassing for our state,” Breea Clark, Mayor of Norman, said.
Clark, frustrated, spoke to KFOR on Thursday after posting on Facebook Wednesday, saying in part, “I was shocked to discover today in our regular Emergency Management meetings that Norman reported 159 new cases today after reporting ZERO new cases since March 16. My team informed me these odd numbers can be explained by the fact that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is no longer reporting daily COVID numbers. We know that they still have the county-level data, because they have to send it to the CDC. Why not share it publicly?”
“It’s like we’re going to ignore COVID. We’re going to ignore it away,” Mayor Clark told KFOR. “We have done an amazing job getting people vaccinated, but not everybody is vaccinated.”
OU’s chief COVID officer, Dr. Dale Bratzler, also feels it was a premature move.
“It’s made it a bit more difficult to kind of know where we’re at,” said Bratzler. “Even the CDC’s website shows that we’ve had zero cases over the past seven days in all of our counties. So, the entire state of Oklahoma is white right now with zero new cases per day per county, which obviously isn’t true. Oklahoma stands out now.”
OSDH announced last week that the department is now releasing the information on a weekly basis, instead of daily.
“Those of us in the community that actually pay attention to this stuff that are trying to track what’s happening at the local level, county-level, do appreciate those reports when they come out,” Dr. Bratzler said.
Officials with OSDH said last week that they feel now is a good time to make the change.
“A number of changes have been made, starting this week, to the state’s COVID-19 data dashboard. These changes are intended to better represent Oklahoma’s COVID-19 data to the public,” said Joli Stone, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “After a year of reporting daily numbers in many categories, with cases, deaths and hospitalizations all trending downward, and vaccination continuing to trend upward, we believe now is a good time to switch to weekly reporting. Data transparency has been and will continue to be important to OSDH, no matter the cadence of reporting.”
“I think there were still 2,000 people in Oklahoma that got COVID-19 this past week. It’s not over yet,” Bratzler said.
“If we are on the right track like you want us to believe, then what are you hiding,” Clark said.
OSDH officials say all data will be updated on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesdays.