Miranda Patterson was at work on April 1 and she was not feeling well.
She’d started to feel sick the day before, but now the symptoms were really starting to kick in. She was short of breath, had a pounding headache, and felt body chills despite having a rising temperature.
“I had a massive headache,” she said. “I lost my sense of taste, my sense of smell.”
A few days later she got tested for COVID-19. She got a call that weekend that confirmed she’d contracted the virus.
Only 24, Patterson isn’t in the age group considered most vulnerable to the virus. As of Wednesday there had been 278 deaths recorded in the state, but only four of those were from Oklahomans aged 18-35. Less than 25 percent of the state’s recorded 4,758 cases were from people in Patterson’s age range.
But she was in for another surprise. Patterson, who lives in Bartlesville, recovered in mid-April. She got a call from her local health department around that time asking how she was doing, and she said she was symptom free. She said they told her to wait three days and then she could return to work.
This week she and some friends traveled to Colorado this week for a quick hiking trip. On Monday, while shopping in Colorado Springs for hiking gear, her phone rang but the call ended before she could answer it.
“I recognized the number (as being the Oklahoma State Department of Health) because I had been sick so I knew the number,” Patterson told The Frontier on Wednesday.
She quickly called them back and identified herself. There was a pause, then the person on the phone said the call was being transferred to a nurse. She put the call on speakerphone so her friends could hear.
“The nurse started giggling, and so we started giggling too, even though we didn’t know what we were laughing about,” Patterson said. “Then she said ‘The reason I’m laughing is because on April 14 you were declared and documented dead.’
“That made me feel weird.”
On Tuesday the OSDH corrected its mistake. Despite announcing five new deaths on Tuesday, the department’s daily COVID-19 update, which a day before had listed 274 deaths, now listed 278.
It’s still not clear how that happened. A health department spokeswoman told The Frontier on Tuesday she was trying to see where the mistake happened, and Patterson said she hasn’t heard anything from the state since the mistake was corrected this week. Her local health department told her it was probably a clerical error.
“The more I started thinking about it, the more pissed off I was,” Patterson said. “I was like I’ve been dead a month and I didn’t know, my husband didn’t know. I’m trying to figure out why they thought I was dead. Was there a death certificate? I really don’t know anything.”
For now, she’s finishing up her trip to Colorado, then she’ll return home, where, like many Oklahomans, she’ll wait and see how the state’s reopening plan goes.
Gov. Kevin Stitt said Oklahoma is set to enter Phase 2 of its reopening plan on Friday.
Phase 2 will see the opening of bars with “with diminished standing-room occupancy,” and social distancing in place. Weddings, funerals and organized sports will begin again. If hospitalization rates remain at their current level for the remainder of May, the state can enter Phase 3 of the reopening plan on June 1, Stitt said.
Details of Phase 3 will be released when the state enters Phase 2, Stitt said last month.
No new COVID-19 related deaths were reported to the state health department on Tuesday, the second time in the last month there have been no deaths in a 24-hour period. Stitt, in a statement, called it a “milestone for our state.”
“This is the result of our health care workers, emergency responders, state and local leaders, and Oklahomans who continue to make sacrifices and display the Oklahoma Standard every day,” Stitt said. “Our hearts are with the Oklahomans who have lost loved ones to this virus, and we will continue to take this fight very seriously as we move forward. COVID-19 is still in Oklahoma, and we will prioritize the health and safety of all four million Oklahomans.”