Oklahoma doctor warns omicron likely already in Sooner State

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Although it may feel as though life has gone back to normal, doctors in Oklahoma warn that COVID-19 is still spreading in the community.

Dr. David Chansolme, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention at INTEGRIS Health, says COVID-19 cases are climbing in the Sooner State.

On Monday, data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that the state has had 689,236 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March of 2020.

At this point, officials believe there are 14,568 active cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma has seen 12,286 deaths as of Monday. That’s an increase of 64 deaths since Friday’s numbers.

“The COVID numbers are going back up. We are seeing some significant increases across the state and across the country. We think this is for a number of different reasons. There were lots of gatherings, it’s gotten colder. We kind of expected there to be a winter increase just like last year, and sure enough, that’s come to fruition. As we see delta numbers continue to rise across the state, the rest of the country is starting to see more and more omicron. At the last count, it’s about 3% of national totals, but some places like New York and New Jersey, it’s up to 13%,” said Dr. Chansolme.

However, Harvard experts have warned that those numbers are likely lower than reality since omicron is spreading so quickly across the globe.

“The omicron variant will quickly overtake the other ones we think because its doubling time is so much more brisk, whereas delta doubled its numbers every two weeks, omicron seems to do that about every three days. So in countries where they’ve already seen significant burdens, such as South Africa, the increase has been very, very brisk and the variant has quickly overtaken the others,” Dr. Chansolme said.

“As far as the way it compares to delta, again it doubles much more quickly. The jury is still out on severity of disease. It looks like it might be a bit more mild but COVID generally is mild, it’s just that there’s a significant minority of people who have very severe symptoms and end up in the hospital. I don’t think that will be much different with omicron. I think that we’ll have a fair number of hospitalizations from it as well,” he added.

At this point, omicron has been detected in states across the country but health trackers have not found it in Oklahoma.

Dr. Chansolme says he believes omicron is likely already in the Sooner State or will be here very soon.

“It’s not been identified in Oklahoma yet, but I’m certain it’s here. Every single state around us has had some and as we know, we haven’t gotten quite as many sequences out as some of the other places. The bottom line is it’s probably here we just haven’t discovered it yet. If it’s not here yet, it certainly will be soon,” he said.

Doctors stress that in order to protect yourself and others, you should get vaccinated and get a booster shot.

“Keep yourself safe with masking, social distancing, gathering only with others who have been vaccinated, and try and get your booster if you can,” he said.

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