Gov. Stitt: Dr. Birx touring Sooner State amid growing COVID-19 cases

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – During a press conference concerning Oklahoma’s hospital response to COVID-19, Governor Kevin Stitt announced Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House, will tour Oklahoma to gauge how the Sooner State is handling the pandemic.

On Thursday, Governor Stitt held a press conference to discuss how Oklahoma hospitals across the state are handling the continued coronavirus outbreak.

During that time, Stitt announced that Dr. Birx will visit to observe Oklahoma’s COVID-19 response.

On Wednesday, Dr. Birx warned state and local officials in a phone call about a uptick in a test-positivity rate in several cities, including Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Washington, DC.

She also said Baltimore, Atlanta, Kansas City, Portland, Omaha and California’s Central Valley “remain at a very high level.”

Test positivity rates can give early indication that a surge in daily case counts will come if nothing is done, Dr. Fauci said Thursday.

“So what Dr. Birx is saying, is now is the time to accelerate the fundamental preventative measures that we all talk about: Masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, outdoors greater than indoors, washing hands, et cetera,” Fauci said. “Those kinds of simple things can actually prevent that uptick from becoming a surge. So she was warning the states and the cities to be careful, because this is a predictor of trouble ahead.”

Gov. Stitt says her visit will show her the “innovative partnerships with our regional hospitals as well as our state’s strategic efforts to support our rural communities with telemedicine and with our COVID-19 strikeforce teams.”

The Gov. did not give an exact date for her visit.

During the conference, Stitt announced that Oklahomans diagnosed with COVID-19 have seen a 99.3% recovery rate, and a 99.8% recovery rate for those under 65.

He went on to say that hospitals remain below capacity for COVID-19 related care.

When asked about the continued growing numbers and the outlook for hospital capacity, Interim Health Commissioner Col. Lance Frye said, “I think it is too early to say if it has plateaued or not, there are different things to look it. Hospitalizations are stable right now. If you are looking at cases, I think it is a little too early to say that. One of the things that makes that difficult is the fact that we have a delay in reporting of those cases, that is based on just the logistics of someone getting a test, it being sent to a lab, that lab processing that test, and then getting that result back to us. Then we have to take that test and put it in our system to make sure that is not a repeat test, so it is a unique new case and that person lives in the state of Oklahoma.”

On Thursday, data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that the state has had 41,401 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March.

That’s an increase of 837 cases in the past 24 hours, or a 2.1% increase.

There have been 593 deaths and hospitalizations stand at 643, as of Wednesday.

For now, state leadership says it is not looking into a mask mandate and Gov. Stitt went on to say the reopening of schools is essential.

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