CLOSE

Widespread COVID-1

9 testing is key to fighting the pandemic, but are there enough tests? The answer is in the positivity rates.

USE TODAY

The Complaint: The Oklahoma Department of Health has planned a spike in COVID-19 cases.

An email from an employee of the Oklahoma Department of Health spread on social media along with allegations that the state orchestrated a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

The post – from the Purposefully NOT Politically Correct page – claims that the email “announced a planned spike in Covid numbers for next week for Oklahoma.”

“The ‘peak’ conveniently coincides with the start of school. In addition, the number of Covid has continued to decline at a rapid pace,” the post reads. “Those behind this manipulation are well aware that it will cause fear and concern in the community – and potentially force parents to withdraw their children from school or provide the impetus for superintendents to close schools.

“It also creates the perfect backdrop for Democrats’ desperate demand to stop voting in person and force mail-order votes,” the post explains. “Attention, this is a planned peak calculated on the basis of fraudulent numbers”.

The page did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

More: Coronavirus Watch: Why Your Child Likely Won’t Get a COVID-19 Vaccine for a While

The email explained a change in the status reporting system

In fact, the message released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health contained no evidence of a planned increase in cases.

Rather, the email – sent by Maria Alexander, a regional director – warned county commissioners about how a new reporting system could increase the number of cases reported by a state website in their counties.

In Oklahoma, the primary care-to-population ratio is 1 in 1,616, equivalent to 61.9 primary care physicians per 100,000 people. There are 878 emergency room doctors in the state, the 23rd lowest in the nation. (Photo: Sean Pavone / Getty Images)

“Just to let you know over the next week, the OSDH website will report an increase in COVID numbers in most counties as the report will include” probable “COVID cases in addition to actual positive cases as confirmed by test results. This will increase. the local county Covid number overnight. However, these cases could be cases dating back to March, “wrote Alexander.

“However, as the increase will appear overnight and may cause your community some concern and some questions for you, I just wanted you to be aware of it,” he added.

More: When will children get a COVID-19 vaccine? It will take a while

Rob Crissinger, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Health, explained the reason for the change in the reporting system in an email to USA TODAY.

Previously, the Oklahoma Department of Health defined a “confirmed COVID-19 positive case” as an individual who has been diagnosed with a positive PCR test.

Conversely, “positive results obtained through the antigen test were classified as” probable “and not included in the daily case count,” Crissinger wrote.

But as “accuracy and confidence in various COVID-19 testing methods have improved,” the White House has devoted more resources to antigen testing. This includes a program to distribute antigen testing kits to all nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Oklahoma throughout September.

More: Quick and cheap home tests: Companies try to make coronavirus tests widely available

“White House action, coupled with increased demand, prompted Oklahoma to begin reporting positive COVID-19 cases from both antigen and PCR tests in its daily public reports,” Crissinger wrote. .

The change only affects the number of confirmed cases reported. It has no impact on the corresponding health recommendations.

“Since the start of the pandemic, OSDH has always treated probable and confirmed cases the same way when it comes to investigations, quarantine recommendations and contract tracking,” Crissinger wrote.

In-person voting remains an option

Contrary to the viral post’s suggestion that a spike in coronavirus cases will fuel a “demand to close in-person voting,” in-person voting is still an option in all 50 states.

While some states have moved or consolidated traditional polling stations into voting centers or polling offices, in-person voting is still possible nationwide, according to FiveThirtyEight.

And so far, no plans have been announced in Oklahoma to close polling stations.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, the claim that the Oklahoma Department of Health has planned a spike in COVID-19 cases is FALSE. In fact, officials modified the reporting system to include both positive PCR and positive antigen tests on the confirmed COVID-19 case list. The email in the viral post was intended to alert county commissioners of the change so they wouldn’t mistake the increase in reported cases for an actual spike.

Our sources of fact-checking:

  • Email from Maria Alexander, regional director of the Oklahoma Department of Health
  • Email from Rob Crissinger, Oklahoma Department of Health spokesperson
  • FiveThirtyEight, September 11, How to Vote in the 2020 Elections

Thanks for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or e-newspaper replica here.

Our fact-checking work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

Automatic playback

Show thumbnails

Show captions

Last slide Next slide

Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/09/26/fact-check-oklahoma-health-dept-did-not-plan-covid-spike/5795534002/