OU Medical Center’s Chief COVID-19 Officer, Dr. Dale Bratzler, said the rate of new coronavirus cases are his main concern, after Oklahoma averaged 937 new cases per day over the past week.
At the beginning of the week, the State Health Department reported results from 22,092 tests and 13.5% of them were positive.
“I’ve never seen the state get up to 13.5%,” Bratzler said. “When you see a higher percent of positive tests rate, that means there is community spread of the virus. In other words, more people are infected. Therefore, more specimens tested are actually positive.”
With the higher percent of positive test cases in the state, Bratzler said it makes it difficult for health officials.
“When you have a thousand new cases a day, it’s very very difficult for any county or city or state health department to keep up with that volume of people to do adequate contact tracing,” he said.
Just a couple of months ago in May, only 1.8% of all tests came back positive.
Many cities like Oklahoma City, Norman and Shawnee are now requiring masks in public.
“I think the first indicator that we will see that masking policies are starting to help is when we see the percent of positive tests start to go down,” he said.
Bratzler said it will likely take two weeks from when the mask mandates took effect to measure their effectiveness.