OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma State Department of Health data shows that a large percentage of COVID-19 patients in Oklahoma hospitals are individuals who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus.
OSDH data states that 76 percent of COVID patients in Oklahoma hospitals are non-vaccinated, and 24 percent of those patients are fully vaccinated, as of Aug. 1.
Most of the COVID patients – both non-vaccinated and vaccinated – in hospitals are ages 50 and over.
The full breakdown of COVID-19 patients in Oklahoma hospitals, by age group, is as follows:
Oklahoma hospitals are experiencing a sharp rise in COVID patients. OSDH officials said Thursday that there were 954 Oklahomans hospitalized with COVID-19, on average, over the past three days. Authorities also noted that there were 40 pediatric hospitalizations for COVID-19 within that number.
The COVID-19 pandemic is surging in Oklahoma and across the nation because of the highly-contagious Delta variant, which was identified in India in December 2020, and spreads more easily and rapidly than other COVID variants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC states that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the common cold, influenza and viruses that cause smallpox, MERS, SARS and Ebola.
Delta is estimated to have caused over 80 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the United States by the end of July, according to the CDC.
OSDH reported 2,342 new COVID cases in the state on Thursday. Oklahoma has had 491,680 confirmed COVID cases and 8,766 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began in March 2020.
“We’ve seen the number of new cases a day in Oklahoma double in the past 10 days; more than 1,600 cases a day right now and hospitalizations have gone up considerably also; 739 people in the hospital as of yesterday. We have some real concerns right now,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s Chief COVID officer, said earlier this week.
Around 41 percent of Oklahomans ages 12 and above are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 48.5 percent have received at least one dose, according to OSDH data.
Oklahoma’s leading medical officials say more Oklahomans need to get vaccinated to stop the Delta variant.
Authorities are stressing the need for adolescents in the 12 to 17 age range to get vaccinated, as the new school year approaches. As it currently stands, only 15.1 percent of Oklahomans between ages 12 and 17 are vaccinated against COVID-19.
CDC officials recently updated the agency’s guidelines to encourage fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas where transmission of the virus is high.
“I think with the delta virus, which is highly contagious, and we now know it can infect people who are fully vaccinated and those people can actually spread the virus. It’s very prudent to wear a mask anytime you’re in an indoor setting right now,” Dr. Bratzler said.
Bratzler and other health experts are concerned that the Delta surge may lead to Oklahoma hospitals reaching capacity and patients soon being sent elsewhere.
“We had a conversation last night. There are hospital beds. Part of the real problem we’re dealing with right now is a nursing shortage,” Bratzler said earlier this week. “So, even though we have beds we could potentially open up, we don’t have nurses to staff all those beds because we saw so much attrition through the real peak of the pandemic in January and February.”