Oklahoma Sees Spikes In COVID-19 Cases After Holiday Weekends


Tuesday, September 22nd 2020, 5:34 pm
By: Tevis Hillis


Doctors across the metro said they are not surprised by the increased number of COVID-19 cases after a holiday weekend.

Psychologists said our brains have a desire to go back to normal, and we are less careful about safety protocols. 

"Our psychology is designed for constant behavior, and we want to go back to what is normal," said Thad Leffingwell, Oklahoma State University's head of psychology. 

After celebrating three summer holidays with COVID-19 at the forefront, positive cases in Oklahoma continue to spike in the weeks immediately following. 

"When learning a new habit going from one context like going from work and going through your daily activities into a new context like a weekend or a holiday, it is really hard to maintain those habits across context," said Leffingwell.  

On Labor Day, the number of total cases in the state sat at 64,607. Now, two weeks later, the state has seen 1,000 plus cases every day for the last six days. 

"We are prone to peer pressure when you get together when family and friends, especially, they are influential on us. If people want to let their guard down on persuasions, it is very easy to do that," said Leffingwell. 

"If we don't see the immediate consequences and hospitalizations and deaths, there may be a temptation," said Aaron Wendelboe, the associate professor at the Hudson College of Public Health.

In the Oklahoma City metro, hospitalizations went up 24% just this past weekend. 

"If we just keep pretending like there is not a problem here then it is going to overwhelm the system," said David Chansolme, Integris' medical director of infection prevention.

Doctors said relentless consistency in mask-wearing and social distancing must happen, no matter the event.

"We just need to create new habits to stop the transmission," said Chansolme.

They all said it can be difficult to create new habits surrounding this unpredictable time, but it is the only way to keep the positive cases and hospitalizations down.