Rising COVID-19 Cases Putting Strain On Oklahoma Hospitals

Monday, August 16th 2021, 7:05 am

With thousands more Oklahoma children headed back to school this week, the Washington Post is reporting Oklahoma has the highest percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in the country at 36%.

The state health department said people who qualify will be able to book a third COVID-19 vaccine appointment through their portal by Monday afternoon.

The FDA just approved a third shot of Pfizer of Moderna for patients with compromised immune systems.

Health leaders said vaccinations skyrocketed up by 121% in August compared to July, but 98% of COVID patients in the hospital haven't gotten the shot.

As students go back to class, the health department said vaccines are going to be the best defense.

"There is really no silver bullet, and I am not sure whether an emergency declaration is needed at this time. What we do know is at this time, we are continuing to recommend mask wearing. Of course, we always want to go back to vaccines. That is a proven thing that we know works in the state. The people in our hospitals are unvaccinated so if we want something that we know is going to work we have to lean on vaccines," said Dr. Lance Frye, the commissioner of health.

Hospitals are also seeing an increase in patients while facing a staffing shortage.

That's why the governor signed off on new emergency rules that go into effect immediately.

The only thing OSDH doesn't have control over right now is the licensing board for medical or nursing licenses, but Frye said they're working to give the licensing board the same flexibility they had before.

Things like expedited licensing for nurses.

"We know that some hospitals are experiencing staffing issues and we're working with a multitude of stakeholders to increase staffing," said Frye.

The state is also working toward submitting 10% of positive tests for genomic sequencing so they can track the variants more closely.