OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The State Department of Health today reporting 1581 new COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma. As cases increase, health leaders are sounding the alarm.
“We can’t wish it away. We can’t ignore it. It’s here and it’s gonna get worse,” said Dr. George Monks, former president of Oklahoma State Medical Association.
Cases are ramping up – not just across the country, but right here in the Sooner State.
Doctors warning of what’s to come.
“About a third of the patients in the hospital right now with COVID-19 are in the intensive care unit,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s Chief COVID Officer.
“I think the writing is on the wall that we’re in for another really bad surge,” Monks said.
Health leaders attributing the rise in numbers to the more contagious Delta variant.
You can see on a chart from OU Health Oklahoma’s peak cases back in January. Now in July the 7-day rolling average creeping back up.
“There absolutely should be a new state of emergency, a new state health emergency for Oklahoma,” Monks said. “That would really allow for a coordinated, cohesive effort at the state level to battle this. This is a threat to our health. It’s a threat to our economy. It’s a threat to schools staying open.
With school set to open their doors in just a few short weeks, mask mandates are being questioned.
Senate Bill 658 signed into law in June– prohibiting a school district from implementing mask mandates without a state of emergency being declared by the governor.
But OU Health’s Dr. Dale Bratzler argues masks are needed for everyone in the classroom, even those fully vaccinated.
“My answer is a resounding ‘yes,’” Bratzler. “Because we have a very contagious variant that spreads easily.”
Top health officials in the nation say 99.5 percent of Covid deaths are among the unvaccinated.
Leading republicans are pleading the unvaccinated to get their shot.
“These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) Senate Minority Leader.
“It’s safe and effective. I took it and I wanted to show the picture to just encourage people,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, (R-LA) House Minority Whip.
Back here at home, health officials hoping government leaders will step up.
“I want to humbly ask all of our leaders in Oklahoma, Governor Stitt to even a city councilor, please use your platform to raise the awareness about this Delta variant that’s sweeping across our state,” Monks said.
News 4 contacted Gov. Stitt’s office asking his current stance on vaccinations.
We were told, “They are safe, free and available to anyone who wants one. He has been fully vaccinated since March.”
We also asked the governor’s office if they would consider a new state of emergency. That question was left unanswered.