TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma is speeding through its COVID-19 vaccinations, but some health experts say it’s too soon to let our guard down based solely on the state’s data, or lack thereof.
Dr. George Monks, President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, pointed out Tuesday that Oklahoma is the only state no longer reporting daily COVID-19 data by county.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced on March 17 that multiple changes would be made to its COVID-19 reporting, including a switch to weekly reports as opposed to daily.
“After a year of reporting daily numbers in many categories, with cases, deaths and hospitalizations all trending downward, and vaccination continuing to trend upward, we believe now is a good time to switch to weekly reporting,” Deputy State Epidemiologist Joli Stone said in a press release.
“Data transparency has been and will continue to be important to OSDH, no matter the cadence of reporting,” Stone said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma is also the only state not to have reported a case of the COVID-19 B 1.1.7 Variant.
Monks says more testing and contact tracing should be getting done to identify the variants and slow the spread of the virus and its variants.
The state announced the start of Phase 4 of its vaccination plan will begin March 29, opening it up to all Oklahomans ages 16 and older.
“Opening Phase 4 is certainly a milestone, but we haven’t won the fight yet,” said Keith Reed, Deputy Commissioner of Health.
Reed said Tuesday that the state has administered vaccine doses to 1.7 million Oklahomans.
Despite the vaccination numbers, the death toll in Oklahoma continues to climb, though the state’s data continues to lag behind the CDC’s Provisional Death Count by nearly 3,000 deaths.
Monks says Oklahoma has the largest COVID-19 death reporting discrepancy in the U.S.
The state began using the CDC’s death count in its daily statewide reports due to that discrepancy at the beginning of March.
The difference in numbers is attributed to the interpretation of death certificates and the state’s procedures that require a more extensive death investigation before someone’s death is linked to COVID-19.
See the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s.