ONE YEAR LATER: Oklahoma health officials reflect on one year anniversary since first reported COVID-19 case in United States


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s been one year since the first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States. KFOR looks back to honor the 3,000 Oklahomans who have died from the virus this year.

On the one-year anniversary, two Oklahoma lawmakers took measures to still strike down mask mandates in local governments.

On Jan. 21, 2020, it was revealed a man from Washington state tested positive for the virus after returning home from Wuhan, China.

The reality first hit Oklahoma when the Oklahoma Thunder game came to an abrupt halt in March after Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for COVID-19.

The virus quickly began to creep into Oklahoma homes, hospitals, schools and nursing homes, killing 3,000 of our friends and family members.

Tinker Air Force employee, Jerry Saldana, died from COVID-19 in October with his wife, Esther, by his side.

“This is an ugly virus,” Esther Saldana said. “It took my husband.”

In November, Larry Annuschat had to bury four siblings in less than a month.

“I will see them again someday,” Larry Annuschat said.

KFOR has also documented incredible survivor stories like Geoffrey Cowan. Geoffrey spent two months in a hospital bed before he was finally able to come back home.

Wednesday, KFOR asked Dr. George Monks, the President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, if we as a state have made any ground?

“Unfortunately, people have just got on two different sides and bunkered in,” Dr. George Monks said. “They won’t open up to the truth about what is really happening out there.”

Also Wednesday, Republican Senator Nathan Dahm praised a “No Mask Mandate” petition and encouraged Oklahomans to sign up.

Senator Warren Hamiliton filed Senate Bill 352 Wednesday to criminalize schools and local governments who require masks or vaccines. Neither legislator responded to KFOR when asked for a comment.

“It’s just a failure of leadership at times,” Dr. Monks said. “We have to make tough choices.”

Dr. Monks says the disjointed vaccine plan still offers a glimmer of hope, as the nation enters a second year of battling COVID-19.

The first confirmed COVID-19 case in Oklahoma was reported on March 6th.

Scientists predict Oklahoma’s death toll will reach 4,100 by March 6, 2021.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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