Oklahoma State Department of Health Administrator Juli Montgomery and an epidemiologist with the State Health Department respond to questions regarding COVID-19.
1 What is the definition of an active COVID-19 case and how is that calculated?
An active COVID-19 case is a person who gets tested for COVID-19 via what is known as a polymerase chain reaction test (also known as a PCR test) and is positive. A PCR test is a confirmatory test that detects if a person has detectable RNA from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. In Oklahoma, active cases are persons who are positive for COVID-19 via PCR and not yet meeting the definition as recovered. A person is deemed as recovered when not hospitalized or dead, and 14 days past the initial positive test or onset of symptoms.
2 Are all active cases counted as a hospitalization? Why or why not?
Not all confirmed cases of COVID-19 are hospitalized. The diseases can impact a person on a wide spectrum, from mild to no symptoms to severe pneumonia requiring mechanical ventilation. COVID-19 impacts individuals based on a variety of factors such as age and pre-existing medical conditions.
3 Does either category more accurately depict the COVID-19 threat in a given area?
A variety of measures should be taken into account when looking at the risk of COVID-19 in a given area.
Some of these include the daily count of new cases and the seven-day running average of cases (we have it here broken down by health district regions for public viewing here — https://looker-dashboards.ok.gov/embed/dashboards-next/67). Other measures are daily reported deaths, current COVID-19 related hospitalizations, and percentage of tests that come back positive, which are available in our epidemiology reports here — https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/weekly-epidemiology-and-surveillance-report, as well as our executive order reports here — https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/executive-order-reports.
4 What does data for active cases and hospitalizations tell us about COVID-19?
As cases of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase, it is an indicator that the epidemic levels of spread in the community are increasing. As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decrease, it indicates that the epidemic levels of spread in the community are decreasing.
— CNHI News Service