Oklahoma coronavirus cases rise by 1,117, deaths up by 13
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday said he is allocating $10 million dollars from federal funding the state received to address the coronavirus to provide personal protective equipment to schools as he encourages them to reopen for in-person classes.
“We will be providing 1.7 million resuable masks, that’s two per teacher and two per student, 42,000 clear face shields, 1.2 million pairs of disposable gloves and 1.2 million disposable gowns,” to public schools statewide by Aug. 14, Stitt said.
Stitt said he is also signing an executive order for the state health and state education departments to develop a plan by Aug. 21 for teachers to be tested monthly for the virus.
Oklahoma schools are to open during the month of August and some, including the largest public school district, Oklahoma City, have announced plans that include a blend of in-person and virtual school.
Stitt said he wants schools, which were shut down for in-person classrooms in March, to bring students back to class.
“Our kids have been playing youth sports, doing other activities throughout this entire summer,” since the state began reopening in April, Stitt said. “Online instruction does not reduce the chance of exposure outside the classroom, if schools do not open in person it is not feasible to think that students and teachers will stay home and will not come in contact with anyone else.”
“I would love to see every school district in person, but we believe in local decisions so that’s why we’re leaving that up to the local school boards that are elected,” to decide whether online classes, in-person classes, or a blend of the two is best for an individual district, Stitt said.
Stitt also announced Thursday that an additional $9.6 million in federal coronavirus relief funds will be awarded to more than 2,200 childcare centers across the state.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced it will deliver one-time payments ranging from $500 to 0-star home daycares up to $10,000 to 3-star daycare centers that have been operational since March 15.
The number of reported coronavirus cases in Oklahoma increased by 1,117 on Thursday, the fourth day of the past five that the increase has surpassed 1,000, and 13 more people have died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the illness, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported.
There were 35,740 total confirmed cases and 536 deaths, up from 34,623 cases and 523 deaths reported Wednesday.
The daily record for increases of 1,401 was reported Monday.
The true number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The health department said none of the 13 additional deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours and all were aged 65 or older, the age group that accounts for nearly 80% of all COVID-19 deaths in the state.
There were 647 people hospitalized, down from 663 a day earlier, according to the department.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.