Stephens County received confirmation of the first positive case of COVID-19 in the area Wednesday morning, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
In the daily OSDH situation update released to the public at 11 a.m. March 25, the statewide number of cases increased from Tuesday’s number of 106 to 164, which includes the positive Stephens County case along with newly affected counties such as Adair, Bryan, Carter, Creek, Delaware, Osage and Pottawatomie.
The death toll has increased to five, with the two new deaths reported Wednesday from Oklahoma County: one male in his 70s and one male in his 40s.
While OSDH typically doesn’t confirm where a case is located and the identity of who has contracted it, Comanche City Manager Chuck Ralls believes the case came from his city.
“We fully anticipate(d) that this morning there (would) be an announcement of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Stephens County and that it is in the City of Comanche,” Ralls said. “In response to this development there will be some changes in City operations that you need to be made aware of.”
Restrictions outlined by Ralls included keeping all field employees and the public from city hall. Should a resident have an emergency, they can go to the door at the police department, Ralls said.
While the doors are closed, services will carry on, Ralls said. Those concerned with bill pay have other options than in-person transactions. According to Ralls, customers can make payments over the phone and fees for this type of transaction will be waived until the pandemic passes.
The City of Comanche also extended the disconnect date until March 30. Ralls said the water department will not disconnect water services until further notice because he feels the particular service is critical in stopping the spread of the flu and COVID-19.
Ralls stated while citizens want him to remove disconnections entirely, this would “hurt the city.”
“The city relies heavily on utility revenues to keep the city open,” he said. “If people stopped making these payments I would be forced to furlough much of our staff including police, fire, electric and water personnel. This would have a devastating impact on our city during normal operation and would be compounded under the current situation.”
Instead, he said the City of Comanche has policies in place allowing for deferments on utilities for those affected by the loss of a job, death in the family or a medical emergency. Instances like this will be taken by case by case situation, according to Ralls, and residents must speak with him to be considered for approval.
Addressing the rumors of a citywide shutdown or quarantine, Ralls said this will not happen unless mandated by the State of Oklahoma.
“I encourage everyone to follow the Governor’s recommendations of quarantining,” Ralls said. “If you are showing any symptoms or (have) been in contact with anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19, we beg you to self-isolate to prevent any further spread. If you are healthy and showing no symptoms, I encourage you to continue supporting our local businesses.”
The Nutrition Center will continue to deliver meals to senior citizens in order to prevent them from getting or risking exposure and those meals will be delivered at no charge during the time.
To contact the center, call 580-439-5076 to have your name and address added to the list.
Additionally, Ralls asked for prayer for the community.
“I would ask that you join me in prayer for the health and safety of our community,” he said. “I will also be praying for financial blessings over each citizen of Comanche and that they may be sustained through this difficult time. I will be praying every day at noon and I hope you will as well.”
Residents can contact city hall at 580-439-8832 for non emergency related businesses and payment for utility bills or tickets can take place in the red drop box.
Julie Williamson, Public Information Officer for District 8 which includes Stephens County, released the following information from regional administrative director Mendy Spohn.
“The Stephens and Carter County Health Departments are investigating a new case with a positive COVID-19 laboratory test. Local public health nurses are reaching out to those who are at a high risk of exposure from that case,” Spohn said. “A positive case in the community does not change our message. All community members are encouraged to stay at home, limit personal contacts, wash hands thoroughly, and avoid touching their face.
“People who are experiencing symptoms such as fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, are advised by the CDC to stay quarantined for 14 days. Most people will not need to be tested as a test result does not change the treatment recommendations. The symptoms of COVID-19 may last 7-12 days.”
With the confirmed case, Stephens County will fall under the recent Governor’s amended executive order on March 24 relating to closure of non-essential businesses as follows:
- Restaurants in Oklahoma counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases are required to only provide take-out and delivery options. All bars in these counties are closed.
- All businesses not identified as being within a critical infrastructure sector, such as gyms, salons, massage parlors and movie theaters, where counties have community spread must close effective March 25 at 11:59PM through April 15. Federal guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce can be found here: www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce
A release from OSDH states the department has “work(ed) aggressively to establish four satellite testing locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Kay, and Pittsburg counties.”
To effectively develop a large-scale, statewide, satellite testing platform, OSDH is implementing a limited rollout in order to develop best practices for a more robust platform.
OSDH and its public health care partners will begin these new testing sites in phases. Phase one rolls out Wednesday, March 25 in Pittsburg County, with 100 test kits, and Kay County with limited testing supplies.
Setting up this initial test phase allows the State's medical professionals to gather public health data, outside of the hospital setting, while determining the projected capacity needed for effective COVID-19 testing throughout Oklahoma.
For more information, visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov.
Details on the COVID-19 situation are released at 11 a.m. daily. The next update will come Thursday. For information or concerns about COVID-19, call the hotline by dialing 877-215-8336 or 2-1-1.
COVID-19 Oklahoma Test Results
Positive (In-State) -- 164
Positive (Out-of-State) -- 2
Negative* -- 805
Hospitalizations -- 59
Deaths -- 5
*Negative testing results are only from the State Public Health Laboratory and do not include private laboratory negative results.
COVID-19 Cases by Testing Laboratory
Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma --30
State Public Health Laboratory -- 62
Other -- 72
TOTAL -- 164
COVID-19 Cases by Age Group
00-04 -- 2
05-17 -- 1
18-35 -- 32
36-49 -- 34
50-64 -- 40
65+ -- 55
Total -- 164
Age Range -- 0-91 yrs
COVID-19 Cases by Gender
Male -- 88
Female -- 76
Total -- 164
COVID-19 Cases by County
Adair -- 2
Bryan -- 1
Canadian -- 5
Carter -- 1
Cleveland -- 27
Creek -- 5
Delaware -- 1
Garvin -- 2
Grady -- 1
Jackson -- 1
Kay -- 5
Logan -- 3
Mays -- 1
McClain -- 1
Muskogee -- 1
Noble -- 2
Oklahoma -- 55
Osage -- 1
Pawnee -- 7
Payne -- 3
Pontotoc -- 1
Pottawatomie -- 1
Stephens -- 1
Tulsa -- 27
Wagoner -- 3
Washington -- 3
Total -- 164
Data Source: Acute Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.
> *As of 2020-03-25 at 7:00 a.m.