Almost every day at 11 a.m. the Oklahoma State Department of Health releases a daily report of the Covid-19 situation in Oklahoma. We give you a quick snapshot of key numbers in our Front page sidebar updated daily around noon.
Here are ten things you need to know to understand the OSDH numbers:
- The information comes directly from the state and they gather it from clinics and hospitals.
- There is a backlog on testing. While the Governor is able to find out quickly the results of his test, many Oklahomans are reporting waits from 3-7 days. A few extreme cases have been waiting over 10-14 days for their test results to come back.
- The date of test will lag behind the date of testing. Most people do not schedule a test until they are feeling symptoms that can take up to 14 days from when you are infected. People who are pre-symptomatic, who are infected but not showing symptoms yet, are contagious.
- The new case number only includes new cases. Repeated tests and antibody tests are each counted separately.
- The reported deaths will lag behind the testing date. There can be weeks between infection and symptoms and then weeks between showing symptoms and dying. This means the people who died today likely got sick a few weeks earlier, so it isn’t useful to compare today’s death count to today’s new case count.
- The number of recovered cases doesn’t mean what you might think it does. The new cases that aren’t in the hospital or deceased after 14 days are considered recovered. Some people remain sick after their positive test for weeks or months. It is important to remember that getting infected with Covid-19 can cause life long disability not just a binary of fully recovered or dead.
- It can take longer than you think to see if mitigation efforts are working. Between the time it takes after infection to show symptoms, the time it takes to get a test done, and the time it takes to get results the effects of mask mandates can take a while to show up in the data.
- The hospitalized rate is a combination of the count of people who are in the hospital who have tested positive and the count of people in the hospital who are waiting for test results. This number will not tell you how full the hospital is in general.
- The daily number of cases can vary wildly based on the status of the backlog, whether the state is having technical issues, and even by day of the week so the best way to see if things are getting better or worse is to watch the trends. Most reporting is of a seven-day rolling average, meaning for every new day in the seven-day cycle the oldest day from the previous cycle falls off and the new day is added to the previous 6 then divided by 7 giving you a new average.
- Keep an eye on the positive rate. The positive rate is calculated by dividing the number of people who test positive by the total number tested. If 1,000 people are tested and 250 test positive the positive rate is 25%.
To see our reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, check our Health and Covid-19 section.
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Correction: In our original version of this story we said that If 1,000 people are tested and 250 test positive the positive rate is 2.5%. It is 25% and we have fixed that typo.