'The data is accurate': Oklahoma health commissioner confirms downward trend in COVID-19 cases
Oklahoma's commissioner of Health on Thursday confirmed a downward trend in new daily COVID-19 infections.
A day after publicly second-guessing a recent drop in new COVID-19 cases reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said the trend is accurate.
"The COVID-19 case numbers have been significantly lower this week, which prompted us to investigate their validity as well as our reporting systems out of an abundance of caution," he said in a statement. "After checking with staff and comparing different sources of information, we can report the data is accurate and our case count has been significantly down this week."
Frye said he's hopeful the current downward trend, which follows a similar trend nationwide, continues.
On Wednesday he told state lawmakers he thought the state may have been under-reporting new infections, possibly due to a technical glitch or systems error.
Dr. David Kendrick, CEO of the Tulsa-based MyHealth Access Network, said he's also seeing the downward trend in his research on COVID-19 in Oklahoma. Kendrick tracks COVID-19 data by looking at the rolling average of COVID-19 test positivity, as opposed to new daily cases. But Kendrick said his data shows the same trend state officials are seeing.
"I think this may be indicating that we're coming off a peak and may be improving some in our (test) positivity," he said. "That's not to say we couldn't have another peak, though."
COVID-19 test positivity peaked in Oklahoma on Jan. 3 and has declined ever since, Kendrick said. COVID-19 testing in Oklahoma has remained stable in recent weeks.
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Kendrick said he's doubtful the reduction in new COVID-19 cases is a result of ongoing vaccinations. Roughly, 32,000 of nearly 3 million Oklahomans over age 18 have received a first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
On Monday through Wednesday, the state reported between 1,500 and 2,000 new COVID-19 cases daily — a drastic drop from the prior week. From Jan. 13 through Sunday, the state reported between 3,000 and 4,000 new COVID-19 cases each day.
The drop in infections coincides with a recent drop in hospitalizations from the state’s record high of 1,926 COVID patients hospitalized on Jan. 9.
Reporter Carmen Forman covers state government, politics and the COVID-19 pandemic for The Oklahoman. Send story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on Twitter with @CarmenMForman. Support the work of Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a print or digital subscription today at oklahoman.com/subscribe.