OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Doctors warned us about a potential rise in cases and hospitalizations this summer in the Sooner State – now, it’s happening.
With the 4th of July holiday in the rearview, one of the state’s top doctors told us why there’s an increase.
“The number of people in the hospital with COVID has started to go back up again,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler with OU Health.
While Bratzler said he doesn’t expect us to get back to the over 2,000 hospitalized COVID patients we saw as Omicron raged on early this year, he did say there are over 200 people are in hospitals statewide right now.
That’s up from Oklahoma’s low point of about 80 people after that January surge.
“Even within OU Health, we’ve seen cases in the hospital going up steadily,” Bratzler said.
Three Omicron subvariants are still circulating in the state and region, making up about 98 percent of new cases.
One of them is spreading incredibly rapidly making up about 57 percent of those same cases.
Another problem – that same subvariant has something called antibody escape, which is causing reinfections.
“Even though you may have had an Omicron infection before or you may be fully vaccinated, BA.5 is escaping the antibodies that you may have already developed,” Bratzler said.
The good news though is that most of those people are not being hospitalized.
The numbers of tests being done, however, has gone up ten-fold, with the seven-day average showing over 1,000 infections per day.
Doctors are still stressing the importance of the vaccines available right now.
“You can be vaccinated against COVID and get infected,” Bratzler said. “People who are fully vaccinated, particularly those that have gone ahead that we’re eligible for their booster dose, have a very low risk of serious complications of the disease, hospitalization and death.”
Pfizer and Moderna are developing an Omicron specific vaccine booster dose to help curb the issues with these subvariants.
Bratzler said he wouldn’t expect that to be ready before the fall. It would also probably be recommended for those people who are at a high risk of complications to the virus.