OKLAHOMA CITY — State leaders unveiled Thursday a color-coded map designed to help Oklahomans make more informed decisions about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Lance Frye, the state’s interim commissioner of health, said the new risk-assessment model is designed to act like a weather warning system. It will provide residents county-level risk information.
Health officials said the four-tiered system has corresponding color categories to identify the current risk level. Green represents the “new normal.” Yellow is “low” risk. Orange is “moderate” and red is “high.”
No Oklahoma counties were classified as red, but four — McClain, McCurtain, Tulsa, Ottawa — were classified as orange. They are each recording more than 14.39 cases per 100,000
Eleven northwestern Oklahoma counties were green with less than 1.43 cases per 100,000.
All other counties were classified as yellow with 1.43 to 14.39 cases per 100,000.
Frye said he hopes the map will empower citizens to make wise decisions and also help local leaders guide their communities as they see fit.
The model will be updated weekly and rely on a seven-day rolling average.
The color-coded system’s unveiling comes as the state continues to see a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
As of Thursday, nearly 18,500 Oklahomans have tested positive for the deadly virus. Health officials said 453 remained hospitalized, and 410 people have died.
Gov. Kevin Stitt said the state is 77 days into reopening.
Since that restart, he said 72 percent of COVID cases have been in Oklahomans under the age of 50. In those 10,000 cases, he said there have been just six deaths.
While he didn’t “want to minimize” any deaths, Stitt said the mortality rate of younger demographic was just 0.06 percent.
Though cases and hospitalizations are increasing, Stitt said the state is managing hospital capacity. He said Oklahoma has 5,000 COVID beds statewide.
Still, Stitt called on everyone to do their part to slow the spread of the virus.
“I need your help in this,” he said. “Take personal responsibility to protect yourself, your family, your most vulnerable.”
He said Oklahomans did a great job in April flattening the curve of the virus.
“We need to continue to take this very seriously to protect our lives and our livelihoods,” he said.
Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.