OU Chief COVID-19 Officer Sends Out Warning Amidst State Reopening

Tuesday, June 16th 2020, 6:15 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

The Chief COVID Officer for the University of Oklahoma has sent out a new warning.

Dr. Dale Bratzler said, "Over the past week or so we've seen a substantial increase in the number of new cases so we are bending the curve, sadly in the wrong direction.”

According to the State Health Department, 228 Oklahomans tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. Dr. Bratzler said recently the number of COVID-19 cases have trended up as more Oklahomans test positive.

"The increase in number of cases is because there are more cases that are testing positive,” said Dr. Bratzler. “It's not because we are doing more tests than we were just a few weeks ago."

It comes as more businesses reopen and more Oklahomans gather in groups, like during Memorial Day Weekend, and recent protests across the state.

Dr. Bratzler said even though the state is reopening, he says it is important people still take precautions. "Reopening doesn't equate with back to normal,” he said. “We opened up restaurants, you can go out and do things, businesses are open, but there was still the expectation in those reopening plans that you physically distance and that you wear a mask."

Despite the increase in positive tests, Dr. Bratzler said hospitalization rates remain low and deaths have flattened. He has noticed more younger people are testing positive, who often have milder symptoms.

The state remains in the final phase of its reopening plan and in a statement, Governor Stitt’s office tells us:

“The White House guidelines provided gating criteria for states to use as they safely and responsibly reopened their economy. Oklahoma successfully hit the White House gating criteria before moving into each phase of the Open Up and Recover Safely plan.
As we are 14 days into the final phase of the plan, it is understandable that positive cases may increase. As the governor has said, COVID-19 is still in the United States and is still in Oklahoma.
The State has a built a robust testing infrastructure, implemented a hospital surge plan that has expanded capacity by 40% and has acquired massive amounts of PPE. Oklahoma is prepared to confront COVID-19 until it is eliminated by a vaccine.”