Oklahoma’s hospitals see 25% increase in possible COVID-19 patients overnight, health officials concerned


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – From Tuesday to Wednesday, Oklahoma saw 42 new COVID-19 hospitalizations.

This single day increase is the largest since the state started reopening in late April.

Government and health officials say they’re watching the numbers closely.

“It’s important to see the numbers every day. They do fluctuate,” said Donelle Harding, a spokesperson for the state’s COVID-19 response.

Harder tells KFOR some of the 25 percent increase in patients is due to what the State Department of Health calls “PUI” patients, or patients under investigation. These patients haven’t received their COVID-19 results back yet, but doctors feel confident they could be positive.

“We do not want a surge at all, but we cannot get rid of COVID until there is a vaccination,” said Harder

Dr. Dale Bratzler, a physician with the University of Oklahoma Medical Center, says he’s concerned the increases in patients could continue.

“We’re concerned enough that we’re gonna watch the data closely,” said Dr. Bratzler.

Dr. Bratzler tells KFOR that interpreting single-day data is difficult. He says the numbers that really count are two week trends.

”If we see the trend going backwards, we need to decide whether we’re reopening too fast,” he said.

”Of course it’s going to pique our attention if it’s a four to five day trend, but it’s really once it hits the 14 day window of consistent increases that we really know something is wrong,” said Harder.

Gov. Kevin Stitt pointed to overall downward trends in hospitalizations as a key factor in reopening the state. He told KFOR on Wednesday that the increases from Tuesday to Wednesday are not a red flag in his eyes.

“You might still have small little ups or downs, but the data still looks really good to continue through Phase Two,” said Governor Stitt.

Dr. Bratzler says his data shows overall new COVID-19 cases trending slightly upwards. He says his team is now asking questions about whether or not this could lead to more hospitalizations.

“All of us in public health are concerned about the pace of reopening and making sure people realize that as we start reopening that doesn’t mean we can stop physical distancing or social distancing,” said Dr. Bratzler.

State officials say right now there is no data pointing to a spike that would overwhelm the state’s hospitals. They say watching the next two weeks’ numbers closely to see if they continue to climb is important in moving forward.

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