State Explains Methods Behind Gathering State's Coronavirus Data


Monday, May 4th 2020, 4:27 pm
By: Caleigh Bourgeois


Health officials say reporting and verification can affect when COVID-19 numbers arrive to the State Health Department.

Each weekday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health releases the number of deaths, positive and negative test results to date since the pandemic has started.

However, certain days of the week may contain trends on a consistent basis.

“We see the numbers spike on Tuesday and that is accurate. It’s not that the health department is withholding information or anything like that. It’s that the deaths and the positive cases that occur over the weekend are then reported on Tuesday morning,” state health department spokesperson Shelley Zumwalt said.

Zumwalt confirmed reports of COVID-19 deaths can sometimes take days to reach the state level, as city and county health officials verify details such as cause of death and last addresses of the deceased.

“Sometimes that can take a little longer and can cause the death to not be reported until 48, 72 hours,” Zumwalt said

As far as predictions, state officials forecast more positive cases in coming weeks, due to the reopening and increased testing for all individuals.

“As of last week, we have decided to drop the conditions or the requirements for testing and were encouraging everyone to go get tested,” Zumwalt said.

According to officials, because a surge is possible, hospitals are prepared.

“I’m sure we will see increases as the state starts opening up. The state is fully prepared with hospital beds should we need them,” Zumwalt said.

With increased testing available, Zumwalt said she hopes more helpful information will be discovered.

“We’re trying to figure out if there’s hot spots that we don’t know about and get a better look at what’s really going on by opening up testing to everyone,” Zumwalt said.