How many people have recovered from COVID-19? We don’t really know

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Oklahoma’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to grow, many people are wanting to know exactly how many patients have recovered from the virus.

Recent data from state testing labs indicates that more than 700 Oklahomans have tested positive for COVID-19, which has led to 30 deaths across the state.

However, experts say they believe the state’s numbers will continue to climb as more people are tested for the virus.

For weeks, state leaders struggled to obtain the necessary amount of testing kits in Oklahoma.

As a result, medical officials were only able to test the most high-risk Oklahomans for the virus.

“Understand that 80 percent of people have mild symptoms and children have virtually no symptoms but are carrying the virus and can spread it. So this is a circumstance where that piece of news is deceptive and we need to be aware, particularly in the face of the fact that we have very limited testing capability, that we don’t really know how widespread this is right now,”
Morris Gessouroun, MD, Chair of Pediatrics, The Children’s Hospital, said on March 17. 

Last month, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Gary Cox said the state was ordering as many tests as possible but was not receiving the necessary supplies since the manufacturer couldn’t keep up with demand.

On March 18, Oklahoma only had 100 test kits left in its supply.

“We are not able to test everyone who wants to be tested,” Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, INTEGRIS Physician Executive, said on March 18.

Instead, Oklahomans who believed they might have COVID-19 were told to stay at home and self-quarantine if they had mild symptoms.

“If you feel a little bit sick, you probably don’t need to come to the hospital just to take a test,” said Dr. David Chansolme, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at INTEGRIS Health.

Drive Thru Coronavirus Testing Area Opens At Carroll Hospital in Westminster, Maryland
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Nine days later, state officials announced that the state had received an additional 10,000 test kits.

Gov. Kevin Stitt also issued an executive order to allow labs at University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University to conduct COVID-19 testing.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health tell KFOR that they are planning to lift the testing restrictions to allow more people to be tested for the virus. At this point, they say there is not a testing shortage and they are working to keep it from happening again.

Now that more Oklahomans are being tested for COVID-19, experts say the number of confirmed cases is expected to rise.

But what does that mean for those who have recovered?

At this point, that information isn’t known and it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get an exact number of patients who have recovered.

Officials say since there was a testing shortage for so long in the state, they don’t know how many people truly had COVID-19 but were not able to be tested for the virus.

As a result, there is no way to know exactly how many of those patients recovered from the virus.

According to CDC guidelines, a patient has fully recovered when their symptoms improve and they no longer have a fever without the use of fever-reducing medication.

However, it can’t be truly known if a patient has fully recovered from the virus unless they receive two negative test results that are collected 24 hours apart.

Since Oklahoma is still trying to catch up on testing many of the patients who are believed to have the virus, health officials told KFOR that they are trying to preserve the number of test kits the state has for active patients.

Last month, Johns Hopkins University announced that more than 100,000 people across the globe have recovered from the virus.

According to the Washington Post, the United States currently has 185,000 confirmed cases and a death toll near 4,000.

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