Payne County Emergency Manager Jeff Kuhn informed Commissioners today that the state health department has told him there is now a third confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed Kuhn's report when it released its media advisory just before 11:30 a.m. The health department reported the county's second case Sunday. 

Kuhn told commissioners that his department would be activating the multi-agency coordination center, similar to an Emergency Operations Center, and is asking other departments to reassign a few employees to work there.

Kuhn said he and his Deputy Director Troy Choplin will focus on monitoring conditions in the county's various communities and coordinating a response across agencies. They are staying in contact with community leaders and organizations operating food banks to makes sure everyone has access to food.

Kuhn said he and Choplin will be holding daily briefings with the emergency managers in the various communities as well as posting updates on WebEOC, a platform for emergency managers and public health officials.

One area where they will definitely need help is i monitoring social media so they can dispel rumors and misinformation as it starts to spread, Kuhn said.

At this point, the MAC will operate 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Two or more community-spread cases was the county's threshold for Trigger Level 3 operations. Kuhn said the county's third case put it over that threshold because the Oklahoma State Department of Health is no longer differentiating between cases spread by travel and community-spread cases.

All confirmed cases are now considered to be community-spread, Kuhn said.

At Trigger 2, which the county reached Sunday, the Sheriff initiates protective measures for deputies and jailers and all special events at Payne County-controlled facilities are canceled or postponed.

Electronic transactions and remote communications for county business are encouraged. Local governments and businesses would be encouraged to limit the number of people entering their buildings.

Take-out and delivery services would be encouraged at local businesses. Face-to-face contact would be discouraged.

A Trigger 3 response could include limiting staffing in county departments, limiting Courthouse operations and allowing no public contact between county employees and citizens when electronic or remote options are available to transact business.

During a meeting of the Payne County Budget Board, elected officials discussed preparing for how they will operate if county buildings are closed to the public. Most are already encouraging people to do as much business by phone and email as possible.

The officers also discussed how to handle it fairly if they send part of their staff home and part stays at work. Specific Level 3 procedures are left up to each individual officer, according to the plan adopted by Payne County.

Oklahoma State Department of Health COVID-19 report updated 3/23:

Positive tests (In-State)  - 81

Positive tests (Out -of-State) - 2

Hospitalizations - 15

Deaths - 2 (Tulsa and Pawnee counties)

Cases by Age Group

0-4 years - 2 

5-17 years - 0 

18-49 years - 36 

50-64 years - 23

65+ years - 20 

Cases by Gender

Male - 38

Female - 43

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