Oklahoma coronavirus deaths drop by 1 as state confirms person listed as dead ‘very much alive’

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The Oklahoma State Department of Health. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

On Monday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health updated its COVID-19 database to show there had been 274 deaths in the state of those infected with the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, there was another update: An additional five people had died due to the virus. But there was a discrepancy in the total figures — the five new deaths should have brought the state’s total to 279. But there were only 278 deaths listed in the state on Tuesday following the update.

What gives? Someone who was listed in April by the department as having died due to the virus was actually “very much alive.”

Shelley Zumwalt, director of communications for the OSDH said the person, who was identified only as a Washington County resident between the age of 18-35, was listed as deceased on April 14.

It’s unclear yet where the discrepancy began and how the mistake when uncorrected for nearly a month. 

The Washington County Department of Health referred questions about the inconsistency to the state health department. 

Total cases, hospitalizations and deaths have slowly risen since Oklahoma reported its first case more than two months ago. But state officials, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, seem content that Oklahoma has done well at flattening the curve and halting the spread of the virus. Stitt began Phase 1 of the state’s reopening in late April, and is set to enter Phase 2 on Friday. He gave a press conference on Monday in which he credited the response by Oklahoma citizens to the virus, and said the state was on track to continue its reopening plan.

Stitt said on Monday that Oklahoma had the 8th fewest COVID-19 cases per capita and the 8th lowest infection rate in the country. He also said that statewide testing increased by 50 percent as of last week, but the infection rate stayed flat.

Stitt on Tuesday said that “data continues to support moving to Phase 2 on Friday.”

“We are continuing to make decisions based on the data in our state, not what we see on TV from other parts of the country,” he said on Facebook. 

Stitt’s Phase 2 plan 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.

Critics have said it’s too early to reopen the state, and one group called for Stitt to delay the second phase of his reopening plan. Given that respiratory symptoms caused by the coronavirus can sometimes take up to two weeks to show, some have argued that any change in Oklahoma’s post-Phase 1 data will lag too much to know whether it’s safe to move to Phase 2 on Friday.

There have been 4,732 total confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, an increase of 2,762 in the last month. The 278 deaths in Oklahoma related to the coronavirus as of Tuesday represents an increase of 182 since April 12. 

The state’s first coronavirus case was recorded March 10.

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Dylan Goforth

Editor in Chief/Staff Writer

Dylan has two kids, three dogs, and no time to himself. He's fueled by QuikTrip and Twitter. Contact: dylan@readfrontier.com or 918-931-9405.
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