Record number of Tulsa virus cases not yet linked to rally
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Tulsa health officials on Wednesday reported a record spike in coronavirus cases in the county, but said it’s too soon to attribute any increase in infections to President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at the weekend.
“We’re really going to watch the next six weeks, because chances are there were people that were exposed over the weekend ... the incubation period is anywhere from two to 14 days,” and the virus could be spread for weeks after that by those exposed during the rally, said Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart.
Dart and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said the new cases have been linked to other gatherings such as funerals, weddings and people going to bars.
“My great concern with the focus on the (president’s) rally, and it’s a valid thing to be talking about because were the first city in the country to host a major event,” Bynum said. “But the concern for me is that we have a metro area of a million people who are going about their lives every day and more and more of them ... are getting lax in how we go about our daily lives,” by not socially distancing, wearing face masks and frequently washing hands.
“This uptick began long before there was any event last weekend,” Bynum said.
Statewide, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported a one-day record increase of 482 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the confirmed total to at least 11,510.
The previous record of 450 was reported on Thursday.
The actual number of people who have contracted the virus is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can carry the virus and not feel sick.
The recent surge in virus cases has led The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City to limit visitors to pediatric patients to no more than one per room.
“We regret having to once again restrict the number of visitors at The Children’s Hospital and we understand how stressful this is for our patients and their loved ones,” said Dr. Cameron Mantor, acting chief medical officer. “However, the current spike in COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma has required us to change our policies to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect our patients, staff and visitors.”
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.
Associated Press writer Sean Murphy contributed to this report.