“Our orange is their red,” Oklahoma COVID-19 alert system doesn’t list any counties in red high risk category

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – According to Johns Hopkins, Oklahoma is 5th in the country for new confirmed cases per 1,000 people.  At the same time, according the state’s color-coded COVID-19 alert system, there’s not a single county in the red “high risk” category.  

“You could actually have every hospital in our state at maximum capacity,” President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association Dr. George Monks said.  “Yet, we would still not trigger a single county in Oklahoma from orange to red.”

The State Department of Health lists most of the counties in the orange “moderate risk” category.  If you look at the Johns Hopkins map, a lot of counties are shown in red.  

“What is different is our orange is their red,” Interim Commissioner of Health Col. Lance Frye said. “We intentionally added another color. We added orange in there because we wanted red as an internal monitor for us to use for the state department of health in order to basically warn us that we’re going to have to get with the governor discuss some other actions like an executive order.”

Dr. Monks agrees that the current system is helpful for government officials, but says right now it’s useless for the general public.  

“They look at the map, they don’t see any red,” Dr. Monks said. “So unfortunately it sort of provides a false sense of security for the public.”

To make a jump to the red “high-risk” category, a region would have to fill 100% of its hospital beds and then some of its surged beds. 

A threshold Dr. Monks says is way too high. 

He would prefer to see the state use two shades of red, so the chart is easier to understand. 

He also wants the state to start sharing the numbers from regional hospitals.  

“When we just get the whole state’s data on hospitals it doesn’t really tell us which hospitals are under stress, or have limited capacity,” Dr. Monks told News 4. “The kind of information would be really helpful not only for the public but for physicians.”

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