OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – One of Oklahoma’s top doctors says hospitalizations have gone up recently due to COVID-19, but it wasn’t a surprise considering the same thing happened the past two summers. Plus, he said the current numbers are not close to the past numbers we’ve seen.

“We somewhat expected that we would see an increased number of cases in the summer of 2023,” Dr. Dale Bratzler with OU Health said. “Seems to be part of the natural history of this particular virus.”

Nationally, hospitalizations are up about 12%. Here in Oklahoma, Bratzler said that number is just a bit higher. Right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the Sooner State with about 38 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. That number is compared to about 400 at this same time last year and around 1,500 hospitalizations two years ago.

“We don’t have good testing data now,” Bratzler said. “So, we don’t know how many people are actually getting infected because of those people who do a test, it’s often a home test.”

Bratzler said wastewater data confirms that COVID-19 is still circulating. Even with a lot of different variants, there’s still good news out there.

“They don’t seem to be causing any more severe disease than we’ve seen before,” Bratzler said. “I think that would be the biggest concern going forward, if some variant comes out that’s really resistant to both natural and vaccine induced immunity.”

However, they haven’t seen that yet and the vaccines remain effective. So, for now, with schools getting back in session, Bratzler said his main concern is students who are at less risk of the virus spreading it to those who are older or even immuno-compromised.

“Age is the biggest risk factor for complications of COVID-19 at this point,” he said.

Bratzler said new booster vaccines will be available in the next month or so that will target the XBB subvariant of omicron, which is the most prominent variant right now.