• The Southwestern

Covid-19 update - 2,680 cases in Oklahoma, 8 in Weatherford

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

+++President Trump: States can reopen if they want to+++Harvard researchers: Testing needs to triple+++U.S. COVID-19 deaths now 41,000 and 680,000 cases+++2,680 cases and 143 deaths in Oklahoma+++10 cases in Custer County, 8 in Weatherford+++SWOSU suffers from massive revenue losses+++

Weatherford. Photo: Johannes Becht
Weatherford. Photo: Johannes Becht

By Johannes Becht

News Reporter The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading more and more around the world and across the United States, causing more and more deaths. As of April 20, there are more than 780,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and many more cases pending. Worldwide, 2.46 million people have the coronavirus. More than 41,570 people have died in the U.S., compared to over 169,500 worldwide. 3.89 million individuals have been tested in the United States.

What's the latest news? In Oklahoma, the State Department of Health has confirmed 2,680 positive cases, and 143 people have been reported death. Custer County has experienced 10 coronavirus cases. Oklahoma County has the most cases in the Sooner State (574 / 23 deaths), followed by Tulsa (422 / 22), Cleveland (324 / 23), Washington (148 / 6), and Wagoner County (108 / 8).

Oklahoma cities with most COVID-19 cases: Oklahoma City (420 / 17 deaths), Tulsa (268 / 13), Norman (184 / 16), Bartlesville (127 / 5), Edmond (118 / 5), Broken Arrow (82 / 8), Grove (67 / 5), Moore (67 / 3), Lawton (62 / 0), Mangum (57 / 5), Coweta (52 / 3), Ponca City (41 / 3), Yukon (39 / 1), and Skiatook (38 / 7). In Weatherford, 8 people are infected with the coronavirus.

Travelers from 6 states have to self-quarantine if arriving in Oklahoma by air. Photo: Johannes Becht
Travelers from 6 states have to self-quarantine if arriving in Oklahoma by air. Photo: Johannes Becht

The Custer County Health Department in Weatherford is now conducting COVID-19 drive-thru testing for people who are experiencing symptoms free of charge. To be eligible for testing, a person must be at least 16 and currently experiencing a fever of 100.4 degrees or more, or have a cough or shortness of breath or be in close contact to a laboratory-confirmed positive case within the last 14 days. New York remains the absolute epicenter of the pandemic. More than 18,600 people have died so far, this accounts for almost 50% of all U.S. deaths due to COVID-19.

Throughout the Empire State, over 252,200 are infected with the coronavirus. New York's neighboring state New Jersey has roughly 88,700 cases and 4,500 deaths. Further hard-hit states include Massachusetts (38,000 / 1,700), Pennsylvania (33,900 / 1,350), Michigan (30,000 cases / 2,200 deaths), Illinois (27,500 / 1,130), Florida (25,200 / 740), Louisiana (23,500 / 1,260), and Connecticut (16,800 / 1,030).

California was long believed to be some sort of "Second New York," because it experienced many COVID-19 cases very early. But unlike in other states, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) as well as mayors across the Golden State reacted quickly, closed bars and restaurants, and issued stay-at-home orders.

This could indeed flatten the curve. Despite being the most populous state in the country (almost 40 million compared to almost 30 in Texas and 20 in New York), California has experienced only 29,580 cases and 1,057 deaths. Texas, the second most populous state, has 18,100 cases and 460 have been reported death.

States who have experienced less than 500 cases include Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska. Among all states, Wyoming was the last to experience its first coronavirus death (April 13).

Throughout the country, people are strongly advised to stay at home and practise social distancing. Air quality has massively improved in cities such as Los Angeles. New York now seems more like a ghost town, and also In Las Vegas, only very small amounts of people are seen on the Strip.

When can the country reopen?

Many stores across the country ran out of toilet paper, such as this Walgreens in Paradise, Las Vegas. Photo: Johannes Becht
Many stores across the country ran out of toilet paper, such as this Walgreens in Paradise, Las Vegas. Photo: Becht

The number of outbreaks and deaths in the United States is believed to continue to rise throughout the next weeks, though the numbers don't continue to be as high as before. New York's Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said that "the worst is over," but he also warned the situation could worsen again if New Yorkers behaved recklessly. New York's shutdown will last at least until May 15, Cumo said.

Experts warn that up to or even more than 70% of the population could eventually get the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House's coronavirus task force, had told CNN that the United States could see far more than 100,000 deaths.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump (R) had stated that keeping US COVID-19 deaths under 100,000 would be a "very good job". By now, a lower number of deaths - 65,000 - is expected by the White House experts.

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to reopen the country as soon as possible. Photo provided.
U.S. President Donald Trump wants to reopen the country as soon as possible. Photo provided.

In a telephone call on Thursday with the governors, Trump announced that some states could begin reopening by May 1 or earlier if they wanted to.

“You’re going to call your own shots,” he said, making clear he would not seek to impose his will on them. "We’ll be standing right alongside of you and we’re going to get our country open and get it working. People want to get working.”

However, according to an article by the NY Times, new estimates by researches at Harvard University suggest that the United States cannot safely reopen unless it conducts more than 500,000 daily testings. At the moment, this number is 146,000.

That level of testing is necessary to identify the majority of infected people and isolate them from the healthy ones. Around 20 percent of those tested so far were positive for the virus, a rate that the researchers say is too high.

“If you have a very high positive rate, it means that there are probably a good number of people out there who have the disease who you haven’t tested,” said Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “You want to drive the positive rate down, because the fundamental element of keeping our economy open is making sure you’re identifying as many infected people as possible and isolating them.”

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo provided.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) extended the so-called safer-at-home order for old and vulnerable people. "We are making tremendous progress, but as I've said before, now is not the time to take our foot off the gas. What we do together over the next three weeks will greatly determine the outcome of what we can do after April 30," he said.

The governors of 9 East and West Coast states had announced earlier this week that they were forming regional working groups which help determine when it would be safe to ease restrictions.

“Well, seeing as we had the responsibility for closing the state down,” Gov. Tom Wolf (D) of Pennsylvania said, “I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up.”

President Trump signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a massive stimulus package that includes direct financial help for American families and businesses.

However, the so-called Paycheck Protection Program which was intended to help small businesses keep workers on their payrolls has run out of money ($349 billion). It more and more proves ineffective, since more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The CARES Act also offers $14 billion for higher education. But SWOSU's President Randy Beutler warned on Tuesday that "many feel that the need of public colleges will be much more than that due to this crisis."

Funding problems on the state level?

Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, The Southwestern, COVID-19, Coronavirus, Pandemic, Custer County, Weatherford, SWOSU
Oklahoma County has the most cases in the Sooner State. Photo provided by Unsplash.

On the state level, according to Beutler, it is expected that Gov. Stitt attempts to cut funding for every agency by 1-3%.

Associated Press (AP) reported that plummeting oil prices and dwindling tax collections lower the state's revenues. First, a $220 million shortfall in this fiscal year 2020 was expected, but Stitt said that the real hole is much larger - $416 million.

“This revenue failure is not unexpected given the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the dramatic downturn in the oil and gas markets,” Stitt said in his release. “Times like these further reinforce how critically important it was for our House and Senate leadership to work with me to save an additional $200 million during last year’s budget surplus.”

Online classes & hiring stop at SWOSU The coronavirus outbreak has also significant consequences for SWOSU's financial situation. Making most students leave the dorms has cost SWOSU more than $1 million in revenues. Canceled summer camps and prospective lower enrollment rates for fall intensify that pressure. President Beutler announced a temporary hiring freeze, starting on Monday, April 13.

Earlier, he had already announced the following:

"A recent executive order from our governor and our concern for the safety of our SWOSU community have led to the extension of campus safety measures through April 30 and the move of all summer courses to virtual format (SWOSU may authorize some in-person clinical experiences and internships; that decision will be made by May 15)."

>>>Check out impressions from the SWOSU campus<<<

Furthermore, SWOSU students is given the opportunity to chose a pass/no-pass grading for their courses in Spring Semester 2020.

SWOSU is considered an essential business and therefore continues to operate on a limited basis: There will be limited access to buildings on the SWOSU campus and the administration encourages all students to stay away from the campus. Most housing residents are vacating and continuing their studies at home. Food is available at the Grill from Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Friday until 5 p.m.) and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends, offering grab-and-go meals. You can order meals in advance at the Grill by calling 580-774-3784 in order to limit personal contact. From Monday to Friday, a Luncheon Special is offered on a first-come basis.

The SWOSU bookstore remains open and offers a 50% discount on merchandise.

Al Harris Library is closed. In Stafford 128, a computer lab will be open for student use only between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you need the lab between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., please call Karen Klein at 580-330-0008. All in-person activities and events are cancelled on campus through May 10. SWOSUpalooza was postponed to August 20. >>>Read here the full update by SWOSU<<< What can I do?

Photo provided by Unsplash.

First - don't panic. The virus is not dangerous in most cases. The highest mortality rate is among people who are 80 years and older. If you are young, you'll probably be fine, even if you get the virus. In this case, avoid having contact with people around you in order to prevent the virus from being passed on and on.

Second - wash your hands regularly, 20 seconds minimum. If no soap is available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching mouth, eyes, and nose and stay away from people who appear to be sick. Third - social distancing. Try to avoid having direct face-to-face contact with people. If you talk to people, try to stay away 6 feet and avoid body contact such as shaking hands. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While roughly 80% of cases report mild symptoms, some progress into severe pneumonia and multi-organ failure and can lead to death. Current data indicates the risk of death for those contracting COVID-19 notably increases for individuals above the age of 60 or for individuals with autoimmune conditions.

If you experience symptoms, self-quarantine immediately and inform your doctor / healthcare provider.

>>>What shall I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?<<<

Can I track the virus? Johns Hopkins University has created a map that is tracking the virus around the world (mobile version below):

Mobile version:

SWOSU is continuously monitoring this outbreak. Please let SWOSU PD know if you have any questions or concerns, at 580-774-3111. >>>Read more about the Coronavirus<<<

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