OSDH Announces New Emergency Rules For Oklahoma Hospitals Amid COVID-19 Surge

Friday, August 13th 2021, 5:08 pm
By: Erica Rankin

Oklahoma saw a jump of 121% in vaccination administrations in the last month, Oklahoma heath department officials said during Friday's briefing.

On the other hand, hospitals are filling up at an alarming rate which has strained the state's health care system that is already facing a staffing shortage.

"In the month of August so far, 98% of cases and 93% of hospitalizations have been among unvaccinated people," said Dr. Lance Frye, the Commissioner of Health.

Hospital beds and ICUs have been filling up in the state. That led OSDH officials to draft up and do a legal review over some emergency rules to put into place. Gov. Stitt approved them and they went into effect on Friday. 

Among the list of emergency rules, it is listed that hospitals have the flexibility to shift things around to make room for more patients.

"(It's) also enabling hospitals to report COVID-19 positive patients," Frye said. "It requires providers the ability to electronically submit reporting to OSDH to have more accurate and real time data. It also creates a requirement for labs and providers to submit 10% of positive specimens to the public health lab for genomic sequencing."

The only thing OSDH doesn't have control over right now is the licensing board. Under an emergency declaration, the department would have more flexibility with getting nurses licensed, but Frye said they are working on an emergency rule for that.

OSDH officials said they are talking about opening large scale testing, but they said they would have to balance resources with testing and working to continue to vaccine as many Oklahomans as they can.