OU Health reflects back on one year anniversary of Oklahoma’s first COVID-19 case

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A year ago our world looking very different. Now as we approach the one year anniversary of the first case reported in Oklahoma, COVID-19 health leaders are looking back. 

OU Health tells News 4 they started making plans in early 2020 for the day COVID-19 showed up here in Oklahoma. And even after a year of learning so much about this virus, they say now is still not the time to let our guard down.

“I think we were all maybe a little caught off guard by how quickly our lives changed,” said Dr. Jabraan Pasha, OU Health Physicians-Tulsa Hospitalist.

“I remember that day pretty well,” said Dr. Douglas Drevets, OU Health Chief of Infectious Diseases.

At the start of 2020, COVID-19 was spreading across China. Back then, we simply referred to the disease as ‘coronavirus.’

By March of that year it was here in our state, Governor Stitt reported the first case.

“We have effectively identified the first case as a Tulsa County resident. A man in his 50s who recently traveled to Italy,” Stitt said at a press conference.

Less than a day later, the whole world watching as the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz game put on hold. A Jazz player tested positive.

Now Oklahoma has had over 425,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and potentially many more asymptomatic cases.

“Very early in this whole process, we were very concerned that this was going to be, had the potential to be the world’s next pandemic. I don’t think any of us would have guessed how big it would have gotten,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Health Chief Quality Officer and OU Chief COVID Officer.

One doctor referring back to her journals from early on in the pandemic.

“I wrote ‘today the pandemic is absolutely global. New York City, Michigan, California and Seattle are absolutely overrun with cases. There is no PPE. We are reusing everything and coming up with ways to sterilize our masks,’” said Dr. Donna Tyungu, Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Infectious Diseases Specialist.

But looking forward, the doctors hoping for some sense of normalcy in 2022. Until cases continue to move down and more people are vaccinated mitigation efforts are still needed.

“Because that’s the best way to slow the spread of a contagious virus,” Bratzler said.

OU Health experts say there is still much concern about the variants– saying we still don’t know much about the strands that are continuing to mutate.

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