A Tale of Two Charts

Since the world went on lockdown during what should have been spring break, I’ve been logging the daily COVID-19 numbers provided by both Oklahoma (where I live) and Connecticut (where my parents live) in a Google Docs spreadsheet. Now nearing the middle of June, the two charts look drastically different.

Oklahoma never entirely locked down, the state largely followed a “safer at home” approach that encouraged people to stay home and technically closed some businesses but allowed any business to petition to be exempt from the closures. Cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Stillwater imposed more stringent policies, but those still followed the state policy in terms of defining what businesses were essential and which were not. While places like bars and concert venues closed and restaurants went to delivery or carry-out only many businesses, especially in smaller town operated largely as normal. Beginning on May 1st the state quickly started to undue the mild policies it had put into place and has now ended the Governor’s health emergency and pretty much every business is open and mask usage is dropping. There’s still some limitations on capacity in places, but for all intents and purposes, Oklahoma is acting as if the pandemic has disappeared. Yet here’s the chart of average cases over a seven day period:

At the peak on April 7th, the state reported an average of just under 130 cases on average over the previous seven day timeframe. Since that point the lowest average the state has reported is around 65 cases for the seven days prior to May 30th. Essentially Oklahoma has remained flat, with COVID-19 slightly ebbing and flowing but overall not declining.

Compare that to Connecticut, which had a much harsher lockdown, slower opening process, and more stringent policies on mask usage within the state.

Connecticut peaked on April 22nd with a seven day average of 1102 cases. Yesterday it reported a seven day average of 193 cases, it’s lowest average since the end of March. Connecticut is currently reporting a seven day average about 17.5% of its peak while Oklahoma’s lowest average is only 50% of its peak.

For the moment Oklahoma has avoided the spikes that seem to be developing in Texas, Arizona, Florida and California but the state is far from being done with the virus. Given the protests in support of George Floyd and others killed by police, there will probably be an additional uptick in cases over the next few weeks, but it’s important to remember, COVID-19 was still a problem in the state before the protests and many areas in and around Oklahoma saw large Memorial Day gatherings.

Jared L. Eberle
Jared L. Eberle
Historian of Modern Indigenous Activism

I an adjunct instructor at Oklahoma State University and my research focuses on American Indian activism after the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973.