Oklahoma's COVID-19 death toll climbs to 214
April 29, 2020
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma health officials reported seven new COVID-19-related deaths in the state on Wednesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 214.
Three of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, while the others died between April 16 and Monday, according to the state Department of Health.
More than 40% of Oklahoma's COVID-19 deaths — 86 in all — have been residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities, according to OSDH data. Health officials announced this week plans to start testing all 42,000 long-term care residents and staff across the state. Deputy Secretary of Science and Innovation Elizabeth Pollard said saliva-based testing, developed at Rutgers University, will start being processed as early as Thursday at the diagnostics laboratory at Oklahoma State University.
"This is a huge benefit, especially for those long-term care facility residents where getting nasal swabs can be challenging and uncomfortable," Pollard said.
The agency also reported about 60 more people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to near 3,500. The number of actual infections, though, is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma is planning to allow restaurant dining rooms, gyms, movie theaters and places of worship to open starting on Friday if they follow CDC-recommended social distancing and sanitation protocols.