"Headed In The Wrong Direction": State Health Leaders Concerned About Growing COVID-19 Case Numbers

Tuesday, July 13th 2021, 6:03 pm


State health officials are concerned about the rise in COVID-19 cases once again. As expected, hospitalization rates are on the rise too.

The Healthier Oklahoma Coalition said the rise in COVID numbers is due to people not getting vaccinated and the more contagious Delta variant.

Read: 3,100 Active COVID-19 Cases In Oklahoma, New Variants Concerning Health Officials 

That variant is quickly making its way over state borders.

"Our numbers are just headed in the wrong direction. Just as we saw last time COVID doesn't respect state and county boundaries," said President of the Oklahoma Hospital Association Patti Davis.

Oklahoma is now 12th in the country for the highest amount of COVID cases per 100k people, with a state positivity rate of over 12%.

A map of the state shown during the update depicted northeastern Oklahoma counties with more cases move from green to shades of yellow, orange, and some even red. 

Dr. David Kendrick of OU's medical informatics department said the virus' path moved almost like a weather pattern across the map. The increase began at the end of last month.

"[It starts around] June 23rd and starts rising right up there in the 18 to 35-year-old group which is again where we tend to see, historically we see the peaks begin in that population," explained Kendrick.

Almost 250 people are now hospitalized with the virus in the state, with about 35% of them in the ICU. 

Dr. Brent Brown with OU said people he's treated for COVID show the worst lung damage he's ever seen, and they all have one thing in common.

"They are exclusively unvaccinated, so we have not yet had anyone who's had a vaccination failure.” Brown said. "Survival if you get on the ventilator with COVID-19 is about 50/50."

The state is close to 50% of adults with the shots, but vaccinations are not spread evenly.

"Urban areas tend to have higher rates than rural areas. Older people have much higher vaccination rates than younger people," explained OU's Dr. Dale Bratzler.

The state Medical Association said anyone still hesitant to get the shots should look at the safety data.

"Even though it's been a year for the Pfizer vaccine, it's hundreds of millions of doses given," said OSMA's President Dr. Mary Clarke.

A new variant is now on health officials radar too. The Lambda variant is quickly spreading through some countries in South America.