White House task force says Oklahoma 5th in new virus cases


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma had the fifth-highest rate of newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. last week and the White House Coronavirus Task Force is again recommending a statewide mask mandate, according to a report released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The state had 142 new virus cases per 100,000 residents, compared to a national average of 72 per 100,000, according to the task force report, which is dated Sunday.

The number of new cases declined slightly from the task force’s report last week, when Oklahoma was seeing 146 per 100,000 people and had the ninth-highest rate of new cases. After recommending a statewide mask requirement, the task force last week recommended that they only be required in urban areas and in counties where students and teachers had tested positive for the virus.

“Establish statewide mask mandate. COVID-19 is being brought into nursing homes through community transmission. Review and improve infection control practices at nursing homes to stop the introduction of COVID-19. Arkansas is a great example in the Heartland where statewide transmission has decreased through mask usage,” the report said.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has said repeatedly that he would not issue a statewide mandate and would instead rely on residents to adopt safe health practices that include wearing masks, socially distancing and frequently washing their hands.

The state health department on Wednesday reported 970 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths from the disease, raising

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Coronavirus: House party concerns amid rise in cases

Party shut down in LeedsImage copyright
West Yorkshire Police

Image caption

Police and the council issued seven fines to organisers of illegal raves last weekend

Young people in Leeds are being urged to take responsibility for controlling the spread of coronavirus following an increase in house parties in the city.

Leeds was added to the Public Health England areas of concern as Covid rates rose to 32.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Council leader Judith Blake said there had been an increase in music events, house parties and illegal raves adding fines of £10,000 were being given.

She urged caution at a time when university students were set to return.

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The city council said infections were broadly spread across its local communities, suggesting they were linked to social and leisure activities rather than single sites – with increasing numbers among people aged between 18 and 34.

Ms Blake said it was premature to talk about a lockdown at this stage but the city was approaching a tipping point and restrictions would be considered.

“Unfortunately we have seen a rise in house parties, but we are working with police,” Ms Blake said.

“Last weekend we issued, with the police, seven of the £10,000 fines for organisers of illegal raves.”

‘Bit of complacency’

The fines are part of newly-introduced legislation aimed at deterring illegal music events.

Elsewhere in West Yorkshire, Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale feature on Public Health England’s watchlist of areas that have seen infection rates increase.

Police issued a photograph of one event was shut down last weekend in Kitson Road, Leeds, following reports that it was in breach of coronavirus restrictions.

“We feel there is a bit of complacency coming in,” Ms Blake said.

“This virus isn’t going to be contained just among younger people.

“The fact is that the social distancing measures have been working, but if we relax and it starts to spread back into the older more vulnerable communities we are going to see increased hospitalisation and all the things we saw at the beginning of the virus.”

She said the council had been working with the universities ahead of the return of students later this month.

“We want to really get across that the virus is still with us,” Ms Blake said.

The West Yorkshire city has been named alongside South Tyneside, Corby, Middlesbrough and Kettering as an area for concern.

Wakefield, Neward and Sherwood, and Slough were all removed after case numbers fell.

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