Update - 12,000 Covid-19 deaths in U.S., 67 in Oklahoma
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
More than 385,000 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., 1,472 in Oklahoma. Oklahoma's legislature will probably use reserve funds to make up for more than $400 million revenue shortfall. Custer County has 5 cases so far and is now offering free drive-thru testing. SWOSU converts to online classes for Summer Semester 2020.
By Johannes Becht
News Reporter The Coronavirus pandemic is spreading more and more around the world and across the United States. There are now more than 385,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and many more cases pending. Worldwide, 1,410,000 cases are confirmed. More than 12,200 people have died in the U.S., compared to over 81,000 worldwide.
What's the latest news? In Oklahoma, 1,472 cases have been confirmed, and 67 people died from the virus. Custer County has experienced only 5 cases, among them an elderly woman from Weatherford. Oklahoma County has the most cases in the Sooner State (265 / 10 deaths), followed by Tulsa (240 / 8) and Cleveland (171 / 11).
After President Donald Trump announced a national emergency on Friday, March 13, Governor Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency for Oklahoma. Weatherford mayor Mike Brown has declared a state of emergency for the city of Weatherford. Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt has ordered all nonessential business in counties with cases of COVID-19 to close. This affects Weatherford, since it county Custer has confirmed 5 cases. Also, gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. Oklahoma City has closed its playgrounds.
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 emerges as the epicenter of the pandemic. More than 4,000 people have died there so far. New York City seems more like a ghost town. New York's governor Cuomo just announced that he was tested positive.
Throughout the country, people are strongly advised to stay at home. More and more states issue stay-at-home orders (for example New York and California, recently Nevada joined as well). In Las Vegas, only very small amounts of people are seen on the Strip. The number of outbreaks and deaths in the United States is likely to skyrocket within the next weeks. Experts warn that up to or even more than 70% of the population could get the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House's coronavirus task force, told CNN last Sunday that the United States could see far more than 100,000 deaths.
President Donald Trump said last Sunday that keeping US Covid-19 deaths under 100,000 would be a "very good job". He extended social distancing guidelines to April 30.
Meanwhile, 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.
The stimulus package also includes $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?
On the state level, according to Beutler, it is expected that "with use of reserve funds (Rainy Day Fund), the state will attempt to keep every agency at the same funding level as it was the year before. This fund is about roughly $800 million, and the state has another $200 million in separate savings, according to Associated Press (AP).
AP also 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 governor Kevin Stitt announced on Friday 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 at SWOSU "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)."
Furthermore, SWOSU students is given the opportunity to chose a pass/no-pass grading for their courses in Spring Semester 2020. The deadline to drop courses with a guaranteed "W" has been extended to April 10.
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. Housing residents are encouraged to vacate. Students who will move out will get a refund. SWOSU students who want to stay in the dorms needed to apply for permission. Food will be available at the Grill from Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., offering grab-and-go meals, and also during the weekend from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. You can order meals in advance at the Grill by calling 580-774-3784 in order to limit personal contact.
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? 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 (21.9%). 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 include fever and lower respiratory illness. If you exhibit signs, please reach out. If you have health concerns related to flu-like symptoms, contact University Health Services at 580-774-3776 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Can I track the virus? Johns Hopkins University has created a map that is tracking the virus around the world (mobile version below):
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<<<