Even before Pittsburg County received the first confirmed COVID-19 case, local health officials said it was only a matter of time before we would see an impact.
Confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise as the Oklahoma State Department of Health updates its data daily and it came as little surprise to most of us in Pittsburg County when the first confirmed case was reported.
We shouldn't panic about the global pandemic reaching our area — but we should be smart about it.
Our elected officials, nurses, emergency responders, businesses, educators and so many more have taken steps and are planning to help prevent the spread with precautionary measures limiting contact.
We applaud everyone following guidelines by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and taking action with public health and safety as a top priority.
We also urge everyone not to fuel COVID-19 panic in our area.
Our reporters have contacted some of those who posted on social media about a presumptive case to discover test results had not been returned in those cases.
Most of us could assume it was highly likely COVID-19 was in our area before the positive tests were returned. But it does more harm and little to no good to spread rumors before a case is confirmed by medical professionals.
Our staff will continue reporting on the pandemic as its impact is expected to grow with our state improving its testing capacity.
We will continue to use reliable sources of information in our COVID-19 coverage — which we have offered free to everyone online and will continue doing so to keep you updated and informed on this rapidly evolving situation.
If anyone thinks they have COVID-19 symptoms, call your primary care physician. Check out more from the OSDH on what to do if you're sick here: https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/what-do-if-you-are-sick.
There is still a limited number of test kits available statewide, but state officials are taking steps to increase Oklahoma's testing capacity and speed up the process.
Patients undergo a nasal swab to collect a sample at a local facility. Those samples are sent to a testing facility through the state department. The test results are returned and reported by the OSDH and local health departments.
We urge everyone to remain vigilant in preventing spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands, staying at least six feet apart, and limiting gatherings to no more than 10.
And remember that following CDC guidelines isn't being scared — it's being smart.