OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – Oklahoma’s top doctors are warning people as COVID-19 cases begin to rise again in the state. They say it is mostly because of three new subvariants with a so-called “Delta mutation.”
It appears more people are testing positive because of the subvariant’s very high contagiousness. At the same time doctors are saying even if you tested positive for Omicron during the wave that we saw late last year and into this year, that natural protection doesn’t work as well with the new subvariants.
“We’ve seen about a 50 percent increase in cases of COVID in Oklahoma over the past two weeks,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s chief COVID officer.
It appears that those three new subvariants are responsible for that rise in cases.
“Our region of the country, 75 percent of the new cases are due to one of those three subvariants,” Bratzler said.
Bratzler said a mutation from the Delta variant that we saw in the summer of 2021 is now a part of the Omicron subvariant. Right now, studies are showing it to be 25 to 27 percent more contagious than the original Omicron variant. It’s also spreading quickly with some resistance to natural immunity.
“They picked up mutations from the Delta variant, and that’s made them partially resistant, at least, to the natural immunity you got if you had Omicron in December and January,” Bratzler said.
Overall, the seven-day rolling average of new cases sits at about 484. That’s up about 149 cases since around May 24. The state’s top health officials also said Oklahoma’s mortality rate from COVID hasn’t gone down.
“Oklahoma is among the top 10 states with the highest mortality rate from COVID,” said epidemiologist Aaron Wendelboe during Tuesday’s Healthier Oklahoma Coalition press conference. “So, it doesn’t matter where you live. Your community has been affected by COVID.”
Doctors also made another plea with the virus not entirely gone.
“There is something to be said about moving on,” Wendelboe said. “But at the same time, if we completely ignore it, if we don’t pay attention, then it’s when you forget about public health.”
“We looked at our health system and evaluated vaccination versus natural infection and saw that vaccination is definitely much more effective than natural infection, preventing hospitalization and death,” said Dr. George Diaz, Division Chief of Medicine at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett in Everett, Wash., who treated the first U.S. COVID patient.
Bratzler said while hospitalizations have risen a little in the state, the good news is they’re not seeing the subvariants send very many people to the hospital. He also said we’re not close to a surge like we’ve seen in the past.