Oklahoma governor donates plasma after coronavirus recovery

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Several members of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's staff, along with five state lawmakers, have recovered from the coronavirus and have agreed to donate plasma to help other virus patients recover, Stitt's office announced on Tuesday.

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The governor's office announced in a press release that three of his cabinet secretaries and a deputy secretary of state all had contracted the coronavirus, along with two state senators and three state House members.

Stitt spokeswoman Baylee Lakey said she did not know where the state officials may have contracted the virus, but Stitt, the first governor in the nation to publicly announce he tested positive, has previously said no one he came into contact with had contracted the virus.

Among those who Stitt announced had recovered from COVID-19 are Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz, Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration David Ostrowe, Secretary of Energy and Environment Kenneth Wagner, Deputy Secretary of State Samantha Davidson-Guinn, state Sens. Adam Pugh and Paul Rosino, and state Reps. Jason Lowe, Ryan Martinez and Cindy Roe.

Rosino, Lowe and Ostrowe all previously had announced they tested positive.

“One donation can provide lifesaving plasma for up to four people, and I applaud my team members and my colleagues in the Legislature for stepping up to help their fellow Oklahomans," Stitt said in a statement.

Stitt said Tuesday that he recently donated plasma at an Oklahoma Blood Institute center in Enid.

“I'm normally nervous to give blood, but the staff at OBI make it very comfortable for you and it worked out really well," he said.

Convalescent plasma is being researched as a potential treatment or preventive measure for the virus that as of Tuesday had infected a reported 44,728 people in Oklahoma and left 618 dead. The true number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

Stitt announced in July that he'd contracted the virus and quarantined himself for two weeks.

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith also was infected with the virus and says she, too, donated plasma.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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Associated Press reporter Ken Miller contributed to this report.