Tulsa Health Department Confirms First Coronavirus (COVID-19) Death In Oklahoma
Thursday, March 19th 2020, 2:51 am
By: News On 6
Tulsa Health Department officials confirm a Tulsa County resident has died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Officials say a man in his 50s who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 17 passed away due to complications on March 18. Officials say the man had no recent travel and is the first case of community spread.
“It is with great sadness that I confirm that a Tulsa County resident has passed away due to COVID-19,” said Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart. “This is a tragedy for our community. In these unprecedented times, everyone feels the weight of this loss. COVID-19 has impacted our community on a monumental level, but today I ask you to take a moment to pause and recognize that a family has lost their loved one. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Pastor Don Martin of Metro Pentecostal confirmed on Thursday that Rev. Merle Dry is the first Oklahoman to die after testing positive for COVID-19. Dry was 55 years old. He was an award-winning groundskeeper at ORU and a Cherokee Nation citizen. He leaves behind a wife, a 22-year-old son, and a 17-year-old daughter, who is set to graduate this year. His family is under quarantine. Health officials are investigating where Dry contracted the virus, as he had not traveled out of state or country.
Additionally, the pastor says the church has been cleaned and is live-streaming services. He says as this time the health department told him church members and staff don’t need to be tested unless they have symptoms.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt released a statement about the death and sent his prayers to the family.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of Oklahoma’s first death from COVID-19. Sarah and I send our sincere condolences and ask Oklahomans to join us in praying for his family and loved ones,” Stitt said. “My highest priority is the safety and well-being of every Oklahoman and I will deploy every resource available to protect the health of all of our families, friends, and neighbors.”
The Cherokee Nation also issued a statement:
“For months, we watched this virus from afar, and now with the passing of a Cherokee Nation citizen in Tulsa County, we hope people understand this has now hit home and is a very real pandemic that can affect anyone of us. We ask that everyone take real safety precautions and on behalf of the Cherokee Nation, our thoughts and prayers are with the Dry family at this time and we are so very sorry for this tragic loss,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
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