Oklahoma governor again calls for more virus testing
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday again called for more residents to be tested for the coronavirus while saying the state has an ample stockpile of personal protection equipment for medical workers and others who treat infected patients.
Speaking at a warehouse that state officials said holds millions of protective gloves and thousands of surgical masks, face shields and respirators, Stitt said anyone with symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath and a fever of 100.4 degrees or above needs to be tested to provide an accurate picture of the virus’ spread in Oklahoma.
“We have plenty of tests in the state,” Still said, six days after first calling for more people to be tested.
He noted that the state has 60 testing locations.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The state Department of Health on Tuesday reported a total of 67 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and at least 1,472 cases. That’s up from 51 deaths and more than 1,300 cases reported Monday.
The deaths include six more in Tulsa County, which now leads the state with 14 total deaths.
Among those who have tested positive are four prison workers, a probation and parole officer and an inmate at the Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in McAlester, state prison officials said.
“I’m starting to hate this virus. I hope you do too,” Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa City/County Health Department, said while urging residents to stay home, stay away from other people and wash their hands frequently.
Stitt said that despite the rise in COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations fell from 560 to 407 in the past week.
“We are seeing proof here in Oklahoma ... that our social distancing is working,” said Stitt, who has not issued a stay-at-home order, but has required nonessential businesses to shut down and banned gatherings of 10 or more people.
The state Department of Education said the U.S. Department of Education has granted a preliminary waiver allowing Oklahoma’s public schools to begin spending available federal funding on COVID-19-related programs, including distance learning and teacher training.