Physicians Warn Low Holiday COVID-19 Numbers Deceptive Amid Record Hospitalization

Tuesday, December 29th 2020, 5:44 pm

The Oklahoma State Health Department reported less than 1,200 positive COVID-19 cases across the state on Tuesday. However, health experts warn those numbers are likely low due to low holiday testing capacity.  

In fact, physicians with the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition said the reliable data they have is not positive at all.  

Hospitalizations both across the state and in the Oklahoma City metro are at an all-time high.  

“We had a hard night in the hospitals with so many COVID patients,” Oklahoma State Medical Association's Dr. George Monks said. “We set a record with a number of COVID patients hospitalized. That’s been a tremendous weight on the shoulders of nurses physicians and other health care workers and it’s a weight that cannot be held indefinitely.” 

OU Health’s Dr. Dale Bratzler said the Oklahoma City metro has expanded COVID-19 bed capacity by nearly 30% over the past month, but patients are filling them nearly as soon as they open. 

“They’re converting units to COVID units, they’ve got folks in hallways,” Dr. David Kendrick with MyHeath, a medical software nonprofit organization, said. 

Kendrick said of the few tests processed over the holidays, 1 in 4 patients received positive results.  

“We need to get the vaccine into the arms of the sick, the elderly and people who are filling up our hospitals,” Bratzler said. “We need people to continue to take this seriously. We’re not out of the pandemic, we’re not out of the woods here.” 

Monks said more than 30,000 Oklahomans have already been vaccinated against the virus.