COVID-19 cases are on the rise at a fast rate throughout the U.S. and in Oklahoma. State health officials said there are a few reasons for the increase.
"I want to get across one important message today, and that is that cases are going up in Oklahoma. They've gone up actually substantially in the last three weeks," said OU Health's Dr. Dale Bratzler.
In that time, COVID cases have gone up by 90%. Oklahoma now ranks second only to Missouri in the nation for quickest increase in number of new infections.
Bratzler said the spike is mostly centered around the northeastern part of the state right now.
"Tulsa, of course, had 259 [cases]. Tulsa county's population is less than Oklahoma county. Oklahoma county only had 85 cases," Bratzler said.
The rise is in part due to Oklahoma and Missouri sharing a border, with the northeastern part of the state just a short trip from areas that are surging with new cases in Missouri.
Two other causes are the twice as contagious Delta variant of the virus and Oklahoma's low vaccination rates. Less than half of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated
"Our best defense right now against COVID in any of the variants out there is going to be vaccination," said Golianne Stone, the state epidemiologist with the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
While those who are fully vaccinated don't have a 100% guarantee of not contracting the Delta variant, it's still extremely effective.
"Less than 0.04% of individuals who've been fully vaccinated here in Oklahoma have gotten a breakthrough infection," said Stone.
Another concern raised was how to tell the difference between COVID symptoms and that of seasonal allergies. Bratzler said allergies do not cause fevers. If someone has a temperature, Bratzler said they should get tested for COVID-19.