Oklahoma health leaders talk Omicron and another possible surge as COVID-19 cases rise

Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma health leaders talked about the Omicron variant Tuesday amid rising cases and another potential surge.

More than 4,000 cases were reported in Oklahoma Tuesday as hospitalizations have now topped 1,000. Nine more Oklahomans have died due to the virus. State health leaders have again, sounded the alarm, saying we may not even hit our projected peak until possibly mid-February.

Oklahoma State Department of Health officials said that the Omicron variant is rising in Oklahoma. Interim Commissioner of Health Keith Reed said they “anticipate that will continue.” Other experts added that the outbreak has already exceeded the peak that we saw with the Delta surge.

“We believe that Omicron is the predominant strain of COVID-19 in Oklahoma at this time,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, the University of Oklahoma’s Chief COVID-19 officer.

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OU Medicine Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler

Tuesday night, surveillance data from the Oklahoma Public Health Lab also indicated it was on the rise. Recent sequencing information showed a mix of the Omicron variant in 57 percent of specimens while the Delta variant was in 43 percent of them.

“We should take extra caution out there, but also thinking of the long term that we’re going to continue to see surges and dips,” said Dr. Aaron Wendelboe, professor of epidemiology at the University of Oklahoma. “We had 4,100 cases approximately reported once during the August surge. We’ve exceeded 4,100 cases twice already in the current surge, and we expect those numbers to continue to increase.”

Wendelboe said his model projects increases in cases and hospitalizations until at least mid-February. Though doctors said Omicron is possibly not as severe as other variants, it is still highly contagious. Experts have said hospitals are worried about the spike in cases with 92 percent of all patients in Oklahoma hospitals being unvaccinated.

“Our hospitals are very full right now and they’re full with a variety of sick people,” said Patti Davis with the Oklahoma Hospital Association. “So, we are very busy and the hospitals are fearing from what we’re seeing.”

There was also a jump in more than 100 hospital admissions in one day. All of this is taking place as testing in the state has slightly dropped off due to a national supply shortage. Crest delayed appointments at their Edmond testing site just this week.

“Right now, they’re in short supply, it’s difficult to find them,” Bratzler said. “Health departments are even having difficulty getting them.”

While cases continue to rise, doctors said hospitalizations and deaths have too, just not as fast. Meanwhile, IMMY Labs is offering testing at six metro locations, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health is expanding its hours due to the rise in cases. They plan to deploy testing units across the state and offer weekend appointments.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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