2020: A Look Back At COVID-19 Pandemic In Oklahoma


Monday, December 28th 2020, 6:30 pm
By: Storme Jones


It all began with a single case. Tulsa health officials joined Governor Kevin Stitt March 6 to announce an Oklahoma man in his 50s had tested positive for the novel coronavirus after a trip to Italy. It was the state’s first known case of COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City was thrust into the national spotlight five days later as the NBA suspended their season just moments before the Thunder were set to tip off against the Utah Jazz. The league announced Jazz player Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the virus while in Oklahoma City.

Less than two weeks later on March 19, the first Oklahoman would lose their life to COVID-19. Rev. Merle Dry of Tulsa was 55 years old. He left behind a wife, a 22-year-old son, and a 17-year-old daughter.

School districts across the state began closing their doors – for what was supposed to be a long spring break to get a handle on the virus.

March 25 Governor Kevin Stitt shut down in-person dining, bars, gyms, salons, barbershops and other non-essential businesses.

By late April, the backbone of the state’s economy was in trouble. Oil prices briefly went negative. A few days later Chesapeake Energy announced plans to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It took nearly a month for Oklahoma to record 1,000 positive COVID-19 cases. Today, Oklahoma labs see a thousand positive cases around every 9 hours.

July 15, Governor Kevin Stitt becomes the nation’s first governor to test positive for COVID-19.

By the end of June Oklahoma’s unemployment system reaches a breaking point – with thousands of backlogged claims. Oklahomans forced to stand in lines waiting for answers.

Also in June, President Donald Trump picked Tulsa for his first campaign rally since the pandemic began. The campaign said more than one million tickets were requested. The fire department said 6,200 people showed up. 

July 13, the first Oklahoma child lost her life to COVID-19. Anna Carter was 13. 

In the months that followed, lockdown restrictions were lifted as cases continue to rise. Civic leaders, public servants, ministers, husbands, wives, grandparents – more than 2,300 Oklahomans died of COVID-19.

Hope arrived to Oklahoma mid- December as the first nurse was vaccinated against COVID-19.