June 4, 2020—While the Oklahoma State Department of Health works on restoring data on localized Covid-19 cases for communities, politicians are taking the opportunity to blast the decision to remove the data in the first place.
The Luther Register posted a story late Wednesday announcing the State Attorney General’s review of the legality of sharing non-identifying data per zip code and city during a pandemic, after OSDH pulled the data on June 1.
Thursday morning, State Rep. Emily Virgin released this statement representing the House Democratic Caucus.
“I know that standing up to Governor Stitt probably puts Attorney General Hunter in a tough spot,” Virgin said. “Almost as soon as the news broke that the data was being shut off, our offices were flooded with constituents who were rightfully upset. Fortunately, their voices were heard, and we are able to move forward now with a more complete picture of how this pandemic is or isn’t affecting our state.
“Our caucus has disagreed with AG Hunter at times, but at this moment, we commend him and are thankful that his dedication to transparency is not just in words but in service.”
Political barbs aside, the media, including Oklahoma Watch, also has reported on the issue. With the previous decision to only release county data, it presented a return to grasping and pleading for information to parse out viral spread in the more rural parts of Oklahoma County including Arcadia and Luther, particularly when the area attracts travelers through the Deep Fork District of OK 66.
On Thursday morning OSDH sent out the following release.
- The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is pleased to share that the Attorney General has announced the agency can continue its release of COVID-19 data beyond county levels.
State attorneys will meet today to discuss the legal parameters for which data sets the agency can resume reporting, and we will provide an update as soon as information becomes available.
“It is incumbent upon us as state leaders to protect sensitive health information,” OSDH Interim Commissioner Lance Frye said. “I encourage Oklahomans to use the information to make informed decisions in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- As of this advisory, there are 6,907 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma.
- There are three additional deaths; one of them occurred in the past 24 hours and the others died between May 22-June 2.
- Two in Tulsa County, one female in the 36-49 age group and one female in the 65 and older age group.
- One in Oklahoma County, a male in the 65 and older age group.
- There are 344 total deaths in the state.