Sep. 28—While the number of new COVID-19 cases trend lower statewide, local officials say the seven-day average for new cases in Muskogee County "have really been stagnating."
Muskogee County Emergency Management Director Jeff Smith said the seven-day average for new cases on a per capita basis remains well above automatic triggers for pandemic protocols at county buildings. Those triggers were included in a resolution county commissioners adopted in August in response to a fourth surge of new COVID-19 cases.
"Since we've enacted our ... restrictions at the courthouse, our numbers have really been stagnating," Smith said Monday, citing data compiled and presented by the Mayo Clinic and other resources. "We've been staying up in the 70s (on a per capita basis of 100,000 people). We dropped down to the 50s for a couple of days, but we're right back up into the 70s now."
Smith said the most recent data available show about 42.2% of the county's residents are considered fully vaccinated. While there has been some improvement during recent days regarding the availability of hospital beds, Smith said he does not believe "we are totally out of the woods right now."
"I'm not 100% convinced we should be thinking about dropping our requirements at the Courthouse or County Services Building," Smith said. "We need to take some of those other factors into our decision-making and what we're doing right now."
Smith cautioned commissioners against easing precautionary measures that require masks for those who enter county-owned facilities, saying "the public still needs to be wearing one when they come into the facilities" at a minimum. He also urged the continued use of masks in common areas, but said county officers could "mandate what they do inside their own offices."
City of Muskogee Emergency Management Director Tyler Evans said while the data show "pretty much all counties at high risk" for community transmission of the coronavirus, there is "some encouraging news."
Evans said 50.4% of Muskogee residents older than 12 years of age are considered fully vaccinated. He also said it "was refreshing to see some beds available at least for a day" at Oklahoma hospitals.
"Emergency department visits have been trending downward for some time," Evans said, referencing the most recent epidemiology report published each week by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. "We hope to see that trend continue."
Mayor Marlon Coleman said much of the credit for the uptick in local vaccination rates must go to Deputy Mayor Derrick Reed and his staff at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. He said it took "a lot of coordinating and a lot of planning to open that up" and keep it open for 30 consecutive weeks.
The vaccination clinic is open each Thursday to those who need first or second doses of COVID-19 vaccines and those who are eligible for a booster vaccination of the Pfizer vaccine. Walk-ins are welcome.
The Oklahoma State Health Department reported 1,030 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and a seven-day average of 1,666 cases a day. The state agency reported a provisional death count of 10,127 Oklahomans since the first COVID-19 death was recorded in March 2020.
There have been 12,561 COVID-19 cases reported in Muskogee County and 229 deaths as of Monday, according to OSDH reports. The Mayo Clinic reports the seven-day average for new cases on Monday in Muskogee County was 74 on a per capita basis of 100,000.