Warning. The following includes some personal thoughts. I try to share those sparingly. – dawn
Luther, May 5, 2020 – In the few weeks since our pandemic began, we’ve already developed some new routines surrounding this novel coronavirus in our lives. For example, somewhere around 11 am daily, the Oklahoma State Department of Health releases the day’s “numbers” of cases, deaths, hospitalization. I find myself waiting for it and clicking refresh on my computer in case I miss the email. By the time we get that number, it is four hours old from data collection at 7am. And we use those numbers until the next day.
On Mondays, the number isn’t entirely accurate. Not every lab reports on the weekend, or maybe no one is working to collect the data? Even OSDH has lost some of its stamina, skipping the numbers news release each of the last two Sundays. Granted, it is an intense pace to maintain, even for a state agency with a large media relations staff.
So, we’ve been at this for enough weeks that I caught on the Tuesday number has some catch-up in it. While much of the media spent Monday reporting “no new deaths for two days straight,” which is really great news; however, the Tuesday number reveals nine deaths; two of them occurred in the past 24 hours and the others died between April 26-May 3. So there was not two days of no deaths, after all.
In addition, the number of confirmed cases has grown by nearly 500 cases since last Friday. Today’s confirmed case number, as of May 5 at 7 am, is 4,127. Yesterday it was 4044, Saturday was 3,851. Friday was 3,748. While those numbers climb, there are only 236 currently hospitalized statewide. That number definitely continues downward. And that is an important number – monitoring whether there’s room at the hospital. Related numbers: number of PPE for healthcare professionals who would care for us. That number is getting bigger. Other telling numbers: almost 80,000 Oklahomans have been tested, and about 75,000 Oklahomans have tested negative.
We focus on the case numbers because they represent fellow Oklahomans, fellow humans. Since OSDH made city/zip code data available, maybe a couple of weeks ago, my heartbeat races each day when it posts, as I fumble through the data, battle slow internet loading times, and quickly scroll through the list. Luther is all the way to near the end with the other “one case towns.” I pray that I’ll still find Luther there with its single covid case. Otherwise, I’ll have to scroll up to find Luther in a cluster of other numbers, meaning more of our neighbors could have the virus. I’m happy to report: Still one case. Unrecovered. OSDH says that city/zip code data is updated daily. (I asked specifically.) If we knew who our one confirmed Covid-19 case was, we could cross-check the state’s data, easy enough. It would be nice to have that column truly remain a “1” in the confirmed case column for Luther, and also a “1” in the recovered column! And also, you know, we could check on that neighbor (they might need a care package!). If anyone can connect me to the person or their family, reach me here!
The numbers balance all of the other data that bombard us and fill our heads (and emotions) – unemployment rates, deficits in our bank accounts, business ledgers and government.
We continue on in our new “rona-routines,” wait for the numbers daily, do some quick math and decide whether to write a story. Some days it’s obvious that I should write a story; sometimes it’s not. There’s also a little “paralysis by analysis” going on with me. Maybe it’s writer’s block. If you noticed, I rarely write in the first person, but on this one, I am. Somehow today it’s easier for me to get the words typed if I can just talk, and not “report.” Some might say ramble! For all of us, with this daily data – isn’t it our responsibility to apply our own logic, common sense and humanity, and carry on? Until tomorrow.