COVID-19 continues to make an impact in Comanche County.
The virus hit the Lawton sports scene Saturday morning when Lawton Public Schools (LPS) announced in a press release that a student-athlete at Eisenhower High School tested positive. The student was not identified.
Team members and coaches will self-quarantine for 14 days, according to LPS Executive Director of Communications Lynn Cordes. Comanche County Health Department officials are conducting their contact trace.
Eisenhower athletic director and head football coach Eric Gibson said the football team will not participate in workouts and will stay away from team and school facilities this week and the following, aiming to reconvene in mid-July if all goes well.
“My goal moving forward, unless something bad happens, is that we’ll be gone a total of 17 days,” Gibson said. “Over those 17 days, we’ll see if we need to re-evaluate any of our procedures.”
Gibson said he and several of his coaches were tested this weekend and had negative results. He said he obviously hopes it is an isolated incident but has already seen school districts in other parts of the state close their programs temporarily.
“It was going to happen to someone eventually,” Gibson said. “It’s just unfortunate it happened here.”
Cordes said it doesn’t appear the affected athlete infected others.
“Once the student showed signs of illness and the parent notified the coach, there was no contact with other athletes at the school facility,” she said.
The student was participating in practices, but was not symptomatic at practice, according to Cordes.
The district is continuing to ensure students and coaches are following procedures put in place prior to the beginning of summer athletics. This includes following the direction and guidance of the Oklahoma Department of Health, including whether quarantining is the appropriate measure.
While the hope is that athletic schedules will be followed without any hiccups, it will be decisions from other entities that determine the course, according to Cordes.
“At this time, we are following the lead from the state,” she said.
How this will affect plans for the anticipated Aug. 21 return to classes for students, teachers and staff of LPS remains to be seen.
While there are tentative plans, officials are being flexible because the COVID pandemic is a fluid and ever-changing, according to Cordes. Although the return date remains set, how attending school looks continues to be discussed, especially as parents and staff share feedback with LPS and more information is received about COVID guidelines.
Cordes said the district has prepared its precaution procedures for students and adults who have returned to the school campuses for various reasons. Temperature checks, personal water bottles, distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) as requested, staff wearing masks when social distancing cannot be met, extra sanitation stations, before, during, and after equipment usage cleaning and weekly fogging are part of those protocols, she said.
Although there can be changes implemented following Saturday’s announcement, Cordes said LPS will continue to follow its summer guidance plans and remain diligent with disinfecting procedures throughout the district.
“We are staying in contact with our local health officials as well,” she said.
After seeing a decline in cases following the June 1 ending of the state of emergency in Oklahoma, the virus has found its way back into affecting an array of entities.
When a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, almost 250 members of the staff and residents at a local long-term care center were tested Friday.
McMahon Tomlinson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 2007 NW 52nd, underwent mass testing, according to Brandie Combs, Regional 5 Southwest Oklahoma Director of the State Department of Health. The staff member is under 14-day quarantine and won’t be allowed to return until deemed safe. Due to the positive case, the facility will not reopen to visitors for a while.
“We tested 117 residents and 131 staff … today,” she said on Friday afternoon. “As soon as we get notified of a case, we are in immediate conversations with the facility about their infection control practices, PPE inventory and testing needs.”
Combs said that the district has “a few cases in LTC (long-term care) facilities” but that none are considered to be in “outbreak status.”
The state reached a total of 12,642 cases with 384 total deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday. The state recorded 299 new cases with seven deaths, according to the state Department of Health virus tracker.
Five of the deaths have come from Lawton, which had a total of 313 cases as of Saturday afternoon, a jump of five from the day before. Comanche County has a total of 391 total cases.
Fear of coronavirus exposure caused the Comanche Nation Elder Center to be put into quarantine last week.
According to a statement issued by the Comanche Nation, there was a possible exposure to someone with COVID-19 at the center, 1107 SW H. However, no employees have tested positive. The center is closed temporarily.
Combs said she has not been made aware of exposure at the building. She said that Lawton Indian Health Services and the Comanche Nation are serving as the point people with tribal cases and are working in conjunction with the Department of Health, she said.
The Comanche Nation is following Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines as a preventative measure to ensure safety.
If you have visited the elder center within the last week-and-a-half, you are encouraged to monitor for any signs or symptoms associated with the virus.
According to the CDC, symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.
You are encouraged to look for emergency warning signs of COVID-19 and, if showing signs, seek immediate medical care: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face.
Due to concerns about COVID-19’s spread, the tribe’s leadership has determined that the Comanche Nation Water Park and Nations of Fun will be closed this summer, according to a statement by the tribe’s administration.
Additionally reporting by Glen Brockenbush and Kim McConnell.
Written by Scott Rains: firstname.lastname@example.org.