Pittsburg County map

Data from Oklahoma State Department of Health

Active coronavirus cases in Pittsburg County have increased nearly tenfold in two weeks.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 17 active COVID-19 cases in Pittsburg County on July 23 as active cases continued rising to 142 in the county as of Friday.

Pittsburg County’s rolling seven-day average of cases per 100,000 rose to 17.58 as of Thursday — escalating it to the orange phase of the OSDH COVID-19 Alert System.

“The risk of infection is heightened by community spread, and robust testing and containment measures are recommended to mitigate further spread,” OSDH states of the orange risk level.

Kristin Davis, Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Department of Health, told the News-Capital that the COVID-19 Alert System average is the estimated cases per day per 100,000 population.

Davis said the numbers are based on a seven-day average of the number of cases by date of symptom onset and the department account for lag time in getting test results.

So how are these numbers different than daily summary reports?

“Most of the summary reports and data published on the dashboards do not take the population size (per capita) into account,” Davis said. “They are raw counts.”

Guidelines for counties in the orange risk level include increased cleanliness among individuals, large or public gatherings are suggested to operate under increase hygiene measures, and multiple meeting schedules should be offered, according to the OSDH.

OSDH also recommends businesses in orange risk level areas to operate under stricter public health protocols, dine-in services are recommend to operate under elevated cleaning and hygiene guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and business are recommended to offer telework options.

July 23 was the same night McAlester city councilors voted to approve an ordinance requiring protective face coverings in public.

Councilors approved the ordinance with a 4-3 vote. An emergency measure to make it immediately effective required an additional vote, but councilors again voted 4-3 so the measure failed. The mask mandate is set to take effect Aug.23.

Opponents of the mask mandate voiced concerns and frustrations during the meeting — with some starting a petition with the goal of having the ordinance either repealed by councilors or put to a vote of McAlester registered voters.

OSDH reported 42,255 cumulative positive COVID-19 cases, 35,001 recoveries, 6,654 active cases, and 600 deaths statewide as of Friday.

Pittsburg County had 310 cumulative cases, 165 recoveries, 142 active cases, and three deaths as of Friday, OSDH reported.

OSDH reported 228 total cases, 113 recoveries and three deaths in McAlester as of Friday.

Active cases include a person who gets tested for COVID-19 via a polymerase chain reaction tests (PCR) and is positive, Regional / Pittsburg County Oklahoma State Department of Health Administrator Juli Montgomery has said.

She told the News-Capital the PCR tests detect RNA from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. A person is deemed recovered when they are not hospitalized or dead 14 days past the initial positive test or onset of symptoms, Montgomery said.

Not all confirmed COVID-19 cases are hospitalized and it can effect a person on a wide spectrum — from mild to no symptoms to severe pneumonia requiring mechanical ventilation, Montgomery said.

Montgomery said rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations indicate epidemic levels of community spread are increasing.

McAlester News-Capital Editor Adrian O’Hanlon III, Managing Editor James Beaty, and staff writer Derrick James contributed to this report.

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