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Coronavirus

Oklahoma Officials No Longer to Release Specific Information about COVID-19

OKLAHOMA CITY — Officials in Oklahoma say they will no longer release specific information about COVID-19 infections and deaths in nursing homes, cities or by zip code.

Oklahoma State Department of Health Agency spokeswoman Donelle Harder said attorneys at the department and in the governor’s office agreed state law prohibits the release of such detailed information but that they did so under the powers granted to the governor under the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act. Those powers were not renewed by the Legislature and expired on Monday.

A recent analysis of the state’s 334 COVID-19 deaths shows nearly half have been residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

The head of the Oklahoma Press Association, a trade group that represents newspapers across the state, immediately denounced the agency’s decision.

“It boggles the mind to understand why OSDH would take a highly informative report and render it useless to local citizens throughout Oklahoma,” said OPA’s Executive Vice President Mark Thomas. “Knowing COVID-19 by zip code and city allows citizens to be fully informed during this time of high anxiety.”

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