Oklahoma State Department of Health gives update on battle against COVID-19

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Department of Health updated reporters on the state’s battle against COVID-19 on Thursday. 

Commissioner of Health Colonel Lance Frye says most of the state’s new cases are still in the 18-25 age range, mostly driven by transmission at state college campuses.  

“Not only going to classes, but I think it’s what they are doing after classes that is probably causing the increased numbers more than anything,” Frye said. “Different events, parties, et cetera.”

After a week of rolling case averages that top 1,000, Commissioner Frye finds encouragement in the average COVID-19 hospital stay in Oklahoma. He says it’s dropped from an average of two weeks to five days.

The state’s next focus is a vaccine distribution plan, the White House giving the state a deadline of next week to have something ready.  

“We are anticipating a vaccine sometime after November first,” Frye said.  “We don’t have any specific information yet, but we know they are getting much closer in the trials.”

The highly debated color-coded COVID-19 alert map is making a small tweak in the data it uses, but Commissioner Frye again defending the state’s decision to not use red like the White House.  

“They only had green, yellow, and red. That was not sufficient for what we wanted to achieve in our state at that time,” Frye said. “We wanted an extra level, so we made an orange, which I don’t think is unreasonable.”

Commissioner Frye also addressed controversy over a statewide mask mandate. 

Governor Stitt has made is clear that there won’t be one, but Frye says cities that have one are seeing positive results.  

“We’ve looked at the cities that have mask mandates versus the ones that don’t have mask mandates, we’ve seen a better response in cities that have masks,” Frye said.  “I would encourage them, if they have high percentage of disease in their communities, then they should have a mask mandate.”

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