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Tulsa County man first Oklahoma death from COVID-19

Chris Casteel
Gannettt Oklahoma

Tulsa County man in his 50s died Wednesday due to COVID-19, becoming Oklahoma's first fatality of the pandemic, Tulsa Health Department officials announced Thursday morning. The man had tested positive on Tuesday.

“It is with great sadness that I confirm that a Tulsa County resident has passed away due to COVID-19,” said Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

“This is a tragedy for our community. In these unprecedented times, everyone feels the weight of this loss. COVID-19 has impacted our community on a monumental level, but today I ask you to take a moment to pause and recognize that a family has lost their loved one. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Robert Whalen, of Edmond, said the victim, Merle Dry, was a "dear friend" and his secretary for the OK District Children's Ministries. Dry was on staff at Metro Pentecostal Church in Tulsa. Whalen said Dry was 55 and left a wife and two children.

Whalen pastors at New Life UPC in Edmond.

Whalen said he didn't know how Dry was exposed or whether he had underlying health conditions. Dry felt sick Sunday morning and didn't go to church, and was admitted to a hospital on Sunday night after his symptoms worsened, Whalen said.

Many church leaders and members are under self-quarantine, Whalen said.

"The reality hit that it is spreadable and it is dangerous," he said.

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