Catherine Sweeney | KGOU

Catherine Sweeney

Reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma

Catherine Sweeney grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and attended Oklahoma State University. She has covered local, state and federal government for outlets in Oklahoma, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

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In this May 23, 1944 file photo, the organism treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis, is seen through an electron microscope.

Over the past six months, we’ve gotten pretty familiar with terms we hadn’t heard regularly before, like contact tracers and infectious disease intervention specialists. But they’re not new. Before the coronavirus, many of Oklahoma’s workers in that sector had their eye on another disease: syphilis.

Oklahoma is finally getting a new public health lab, but it won’t be in Oklahoma City.

Samples are prepared for coronavirus testing at IMMY lab in Norman on April 2.

A few weeks after Oklahoma’s coronavirus case counts began trending back up, hospitalizations have followed.

Oklahoma’s College Campuses Continue To Be Coronavirus Hotspots

Oct 1, 2020
The University of Oklahoma campus.
Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

A September surge of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma is largely a result of the coronavirus’ spread on college campuses.

State Epidemiologist Jared Taylor

If you’re following the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s coronavirus reports, you’ve probably seen the daily death figures. They detail where the victims lived and their age range.


Daniel Hargreaves / Flickr

Oklahoma has seen its second case of rabies in a bat in the past six weeks and health officials say it’s a good reminder to take precautions against the disease.

Oklahoma Commissioner of Health, Dr. Lance Frye, wears a face mask as he listens to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speak at a news conference Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

As Oklahoma’s coronavirus cases climb, the state has reached a new record for its seven-day average.


Registered nurse Raquel Hernandez reaches in to swab a passenger for a COVID-19 test at a mobile testing site at the Murray County Expo Center in Sulphur, Okla., Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Sulphur, Okla.
Sue Ogrocki / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is nearing one thousand deaths from COVID-19 complications. Like everywhere else, the people dying here have a high rate of what are called comorbidities, or underlying health conditions. They make it harder for the body to fight the virus, and they make death from it more likely.

In this July 9, 2020 file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. Stitt, the first governor in the nation to test positive for the coronavirus, says he has donated plasma to help other virus patients recover.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Oklahoma’s coronavirus trends continue to climb in the national rankings. StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney reports what this week’s White House Coronavirus Task Force document has to say about the state.

Oklahoma plans to make a number of changes to how they report coronavirus data and expect to see an increase in the number of confirmed positive cases as a result, health officials said Friday, Sept. 4, 2020.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

State officials announced several changes to Oklahoma’s coronavirus data policies on Friday morning. The state is updating which data it will report, how it will collect that data, and how it will be displayed.

University of Oklahoma Seed Sower Statue With Coronavirus Mask
Richard Bassett / KGOU

The White House Coronavirus Task Force released its most recent report on Oklahoma this week. StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney reports that the document offers new advice to officials in university towns.

Oklahoma House Democrats are criticizing Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt for his response to the coronavirus and calling for the creation of a bipartisan task force.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s  administration has taken a step forward with COVID-19 transparency, but as StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney reports, other officials continue to raise concerns.

Registered nurses Geri Taylor, left, and Joni Phelps, go through paperwork at a mobile testing site for COVID_19 at the Murray County Expo Center in Sulphur, Okla., Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Oklahoma has been in a nursing shortage for decades, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney reports on the unique strain COVID-19 has placed on hospital nursing teams.

The Oklahoma County Jail.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Despite controversy and legal concerns, Oklahoma County will allot nearly all of its coronavirus relief funding to its jail.

Shawnee Public Schools custodian Lavonne Harris wipes down a door knob at the district’s central office.
Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma has continued allotting its $1.2 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding, but education officials worry that might not be enough. 

Governor Stitt provides an update on the the State's COVID-19 Hospital Surge Plan
Screen capture

As Congress and the White House quarrel over how to tackle a new stimulus package, Gov. Kevin Stitt said on Thursday he believes Oklahoma doesn’t need one.

Can You Get COVID-19 Twice?

Aug 6, 2020
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19.

People who think they have recovered from COVID-19 have seen positive test results and worried that they’re infected a second time. But local medical researchers say that's unlikely, at least in the short term.

The CDC provides laboratory test kits for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
Photo provided by CDC

Oklahoma City-County health officials are casting doubt on the state’s coronavirus data.

OU Medicine President and CEO Chuck Spicer said the facility surpassed 100 percent of its capacity last week.
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

As Oklahoma’s coronavirus case counts continue to break records, some of the state’s top medical experts are ringing alarm bells about hospital capacity.