OU’s Chief COVID Officer says the rise in cases can be attributed to the Delta variant.
The number nationwide is about 83% of all cases. Dr. Dale Bratzler says new studies have shown the viral load, or concentration of virus in the blood is about 1,200 times higher in people with the Delta variant compared to the original COVID-19 virus that came out of Wuhan.
He says that's one reason Oklahoma is seeing a 9 fold increase in cases in the last six weeks. He says many of those cases are coming from hot spots in Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. It's important to note these numbers are still much lower than the peak in January, and Bratzler says almost all of them are happening in pockets of unvaccinated Oklahomans, especially in the northeast part of the state.
Bratzler says he believes as schools open up in the next few weeks, the state will see local outbreaks since children under 12 are not eligible for the vaccine and likely won't be until next year. He says school districts should be cautious and able to adjust.
"I think this outbreak that we're seeing with Delta is going to be very local,” said Bratzler. “We're going to see communities that are more impacted than others. And I think we're going to need the flexibility to shift school policies depending on the outbreaks that may occur."
Bratzler says a lot of people spreading the virus right now are under 35 years old. Nearly 75% of Oklahomans under 35 are not vaccinated.