Less than two weeks ago, Oklahoma hit a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 10,000 Oklahomans died.
Now, epidemiologists predicted Oklahoma will see the death toll continue to climb even though case counts have dipped.
"Unfortunately, I think we will start to see an increase again in the next few months," said Dr. Aaron Wendelboe, an epidemiologist.
Wendelboe has tracked COVID-19 data since the beginning of the pandemic.
He had predicted once hospitalizations hit a low point, deaths would drop soon after.
"Essentially mid-November, then I would say deaths would be two weeks after that so. Maybe early December, we will probably see that low point in deaths," he said.
Since the vaccine rollout started in December 2021, Wendelboe pulled the death toll starting at the beginning of January to now, which is roughly 6,400 deaths.
In that time frame, he said 2% of the deaths were among those fully vaccinated, while 98% of them were among the unvaccinated.
"The bottom line is we could have prevented 6,200 COVID-related deaths with more vaccine," said Wendelboe. "That is equal to approximately the size of Pauls Valley or Anadarko."
But, if more Oklahomans get vaccinated along with mitigation strategies like wearing masks, health officials said we can help prevent more deaths.
"We are in public health because we have hope," said Wendelboe. "We are optimistic that if we continue to work with people that we can make a change and we can prevent these deaths."