Cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 came off their recent highs this week in Oklahoma, but the state will end the month of January as the deadliest yet of the pandemic.

With two days left in the month, the death toll reached 3,471 in Oklahoma, according to the latest tally of reported deaths from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Almost 30% of deaths so far were reported in January. Because of case investigations, there can be lag in death reporting, so some of the 982 deaths reported this month may have happened in December.

Active cases, meanwhile, fell to their lowest point since mid-November. About 29,000 Oklahomans had active coronavirus cases by Friday, down from 43,000 earlier in the month. An active case is someone who has had a positive coronavirus test in the past 14 days or who is seeking treatment in the hospital.

Across the state, infections spiked since last week in some communities, like Fort Sill, Lawton, Owasso and Stilwell. That’s according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of ZIP code data from the health department. Other places with high active case counts included ZIP codes in Broken Arrow, Yukon, Moore, Lawton and Owasso.

Active COVID-19 Cases By ZIP Code

Vaccinations for residents in the first two phases of the state’s vaccination plan continued, with the state reaching a key benchmark. Now 10% of the adult population has received at least a first dose of the two-dose COVID-19 shot. That earned Oklahoma plaudits on Friday from the Biden administration’s coronavirus task force.

“I want to call out seven states that have already provided first vaccinations to more than 10% of their adult populations: Alaska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Connecticut, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Well done,” said Andy Slavitt in the first White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing.

Since vaccinations started in mid-December, more than 373,000 Oklahoma residents have received COVID-19 shots. Still, there remained frustrations from the slower pace of vaccinating nursing home residents under a federal program using Walgreens and CVS.

Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed said communications between the health department and the two pharmacy chains have improved in recent weeks. Nursing homes that didn’t opt into the federal vaccination program received their vaccinations from county health departments before those enrolled in the federal program.

Paul Monies has been a reporter with Oklahoma Watch since 2017 and covers state agencies and public health. Contact him at (571) 319-3289 or Follow him on Twitter @pmonies. 


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