Health Officials Monitor Hospital Capacity As COVID-19 Case Numbers Continue To Climb Statewide


Friday, July 23rd 2021, 5:17 pm
By: Erica Rankin


OKLAHOMA CITY -

State health officials are keeping a close eye as positive COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb up in the state.

The state's epidemiologist Jolianne Stone said where Oklahoma is in terms of cases numbers, right now, is equivalent to where we were back in February and last June.

"Anytime we see our numbers increase, we take that very seriously and work to identify what the risks and causes can be," said Stone.

Stone said the state health department is attributing the rise in cases to a combination of two things.

The first is the highly transmissible Delta variant which made up 64% of variant cases in the state in the past week.

"We are sequencing in the hundreds every week where before it was very minimal," said Stone.

The second cause is the state's low vaccination rate, she said.

"Some vaccinations have increased slightly, but overall, vaccination in the younger population has remained stagnant," she said.

Stone said hospitals have started to express concern with what they are seeing on the front lines again with this new wave.

She said they are on top of all the data and sharing it with the governor frequently.

"We've sat down with our leadership group at the health department over the last week and really tried to relook at our surge planning and processes moving forward if cases increase," said Stone.

Health leaders have still been in discussion surrounding the idea of incentives for people to get the vaccine.

"Really, Oklahomans are good at doing what they need to do," said Stone. "So, we would really encourage them to go get vaccinated if they have the opportunity to do so."

Stone also encouraged people to get tested if any COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are vaccinated. This helps state health leaders determine where hotspots are in the state.