Oklahoma doctor discusses vaccine, dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In less than two weeks, families across the country will likely be gathering for Thanksgiving.

While Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday across the United States, health experts warn that it could lead to dangerous health consequences during the global pandemic.

This past weekend, Oklahoma saw a dramatic increase in new COVID-19 cases.

From Nov. 5 through Nov. 12, Oklahoma saw more than 16,000 new COVID-19 cases and dozens of deaths.

Although it was a dramatic jump in cases, health experts say they are not pinpointing a particular event that caused the increase.

“I don’t think that they’re tracing it to any particular event. We’re seeing community spread. People moved indoors with the colder weather. We saw the ice storm, Halloween events, election events. There have been a host of things that have happened. We’re seeing additional community spread of the virus and you just have to assume that in any setting that you go to, there could be somebody in the crowd that is infected. You just have to protect yourself and protect others around you by wearing a mask constantly,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Chief COVID officer.

Moderna said Monday its shots provide strong protection, a dash of hope against the grim backdrop of coronavirus surges in the U.S. and around the world.

Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. 

Dr. Bratzler says that while the vaccine provides a light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t expect to get it at a pharmacy right away.

Instead, it will likely be given to healthcare workers and first responders when it is available.

“We’re seeing a large number of healthcare workers that are now being quarantined and missing work because of COVID infections. So that will be the first priority. Then the older people, people who have high-risk conditions. So that will be a while before I think we see broad availability of either vaccine,” he said.

Although there is a rise in cases, state leaders say they have no plans to issue a statewide mask mandate.

Several cities have mask ordinances in place, but hospitals in large cities are reaching capacity due to a rise in patients from smaller communities without mask mandates.

Recently, the CDC revised its guidance to say that wearing a mask not only protects others but it also protects you.

“If you’re wearing a mask, you may inhale smaller quantities of the virus and there’s actually some suggestion that you may build up some degree of immunity. You’ll get infected potentially, but you’ll have a less severe infection if you don’t inhale as much virus. So very, very important to wear a mask to protect those around you but also to protect yourself,” said Dr. Bratzler.

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