OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of COVID-19 deaths in Oklahoma during the pandemic neared 10,000 on Wednesday, while the total number of coronavirus cases topped 600,000, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. 

There have been 9,983 deaths, based on death certificates provided to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Dr. Dale Bratzler, the chief quality officer at OU Health, said the death toll is substantial in a state of about 4 million residents.

One in every 400 Oklahomans has died of COVID-19, Bratzler said, adding that the state’s rate was higher than the national average of one COVID-19 death for every 500 Americans.

The health department reported 2,244 new cases Wednesday for a pandemic total of 600,800.

The seven-day average of new cases declined from 2,209 one week ago to 1,834 on Wednesday, according to health department reports. 

Also, the three-day average of total hospitalizations dropped from 1,407 to 1,235 in the past week, and the average number in ICU fell from 399 to 363.

“It's the trend that we want to see ... if the cases keep coming down, then we will start to see hospitalizations coming down,″ Bratzler said.