OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – About 92% of new cases in Oklahoma County are the Omicron variant, per the last state epidemiology report. While it is considered to be a less severe variant, doctors said that doesn’t mean it can’t harm or even kill you.
“Virtually 100 percent of cases right now in Oklahoma are due to the variant,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, chief COVID officer at the University of Oklahoma.
In December, Oklahoma saw mostly the Delta variant on the rise. Now, a month later, it’s the Omicron variant on the rise and it rings true all across the state.
The state epidemiology report shows a map on page 8 that identifies different region and the percentage of cases that are Omicron there.
The black part of the little circles in the map is the Omicron variant. The gray part is the delta variant. Omicron spreads more rapidly than the Delta variant as well.
“Fewer people are requiring hospitalization, and when they do require hospitalization, fewer are ending up in the intensive care unit,” Bratzler said.
Bratzler said his above quote is because the virus doesn’t tend to replicate in the lungs like other variants. That replication in the lungs in the other variants is what has caused breathing issues for patients. However, it can still cause problems and is responsible for putting hundreds of Oklahomans in the hospital.
“Particularly in people who are not vaccinated,” Bratzler said. “There is much greater risk of the complications of COVID 19, such as respiratory problems.”
Bratzler also cited heart attacks and strokes as potential complications as well.
“We don’t know what the implications are going to be for long term symptoms from COVID 19 because of Omicron,” he said.
About 76% of those hospitalized in the state are not vaccinated. Those aged 50 and older make up almost 52% of that.
However, that doesn’t mean the variant isn’t causing issues with kids to.
“We are seeing younger children end up in the hospital,” Bratzler said. “That’s really important for people to remember that because even though you’re young and healthy and you may do just fine, you could be around somebody else who’s quite susceptible to the disease.”
Bratzler said it’s hard to calculate what percentage of deaths are made up of the Omicron variant. He did say though, while Omicron has spread rapidly across the country, the death numbers continue to stay relatively high.