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COVID Red Zone: Leaders react to color-coded map discrepancy

Posted at 8:16 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 23:14:05-04

TULSA, Okla. — There are no counties in the red zone on Oklahoma’s latest COVID-19 alert system map. However, the White House Coronavirus Task Force document says otherwise.

The document obtained this week shows Oklahoma is a red zone state and recommends state officials to order a mask mandate and even shut down bars and restaurants.

READ MORE: State and local officials bypass federal COVID-19 mitigation guidance

Still, Oklahoma remains within the guidance of phase three of the state’s "Open Up and Recover Safely" plan.

The White House Document deems a county a “red zone” if the county reports more than 100 weekly news cases per 100,000. Meanwhile, the state’s alert system deems a county in the red zone if the the county reports more than 14.39 daily new cases per 100,000.

It is a 0.7% difference between the two if you convert the state’s daily new cases to weeks. Therefore the metrics are almost identical. Still, one map shows red and the shows orange.

However, the state tacked on four additional criteria that is included to gage whether a county is a high risk zone; those include: available staff, available medical and surgical beds, ventilator and PPE threshold. Without those included, the state’s alert system would also indicate Tulsa County as a red zone. While both state and federal guidance is taken into consideration, the city and county say they are only paying attention to local data to make decisions.

“I think the important level to really pay attention to is our local leaders, the data here on the local level and making the right decisions based on the data we collect and analyze,” said Bruce Dart, executive director for the Tulsa Health Department.

Some local leaders are concerned about the lack of transparency by the state and hope this document will open a new line of communication.

“I think getting the politics out of it and just getting the best data, the best information to everyone and allowing us to make the best decisions, that’s what we need to do,” Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is holding a press conference Thursday to address the concerns many have with the White House document.

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