Oklahoma Health Dept. Addresses Plateauing COVID Cases, Public Health Lab Report, Holiday Trends


Wednesday, November 24th 2021, 5:15 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper


TULSA, Oklahoma -

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is watching COVID-19 trends as we head into the holidays.

Health leaders say while cases are rising in pockets of the country, so far, Oklahoma's cases have remained plateaued. The state department of health is encouraging everyone to enjoy the holidays and they continue to urge vaccinations and booster doses.

Interim Commissioner of Health Keith Reed says they're watching case counts closely, as some parts of the country are seeing big spikes in COVID-19. Reed says it's too early to tell if Oklahoma will also see an increase, but after a slight uptick a few weeks ago in Oklahoma case counts have steadied once again.

Hospitalizations also remain steady. Reed says more than 21,000 Oklahoma kids between 5 and 11 have received at least one dose of a vaccine and more than 2 million Oklahomans are now fully vaccinated.

Reed says this Thanksgiving is different than what Oklahomans faced last year.

"We were experiencing a very devastating surge last year that was affecting all aspects of the population with really very limited resources to be able to protect individuals, families, and communities,” said Reed. “Big difference now is we have vaccinations."

Reed also addressed an investigation into the state's public health lab by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. That regulatory agency was called in after an anonymous complaint. The health department has received criticism from some for moving their lab from Oklahoma City to Stillwater last year and falling behind other states in genomic sequencing.

Reed says they have internally addressed the findings in that report like modernizing lab security, adjusting training, and improving sequencing results and he sees the review as a positive.

"I would say this CMS report is a fantastic example of checks and balances that are in place to ensure that quality moving forward. It's a way to hold us accountable,” said Reed. “And then on top of that, we are instituting some even more stringent internal process to ensure quality assurance moving forward."

The full findings of that report have not been made public.