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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma doctors are predicting the state could see 2,000 new people in the hospital, and 42 Oklahomans dying each day for a New Year’s peak of COVID-19. 

So they are pleading with Oklahomans to continue to do their part by wearing masks, washing their hands and social distancing.  

“Our system is so strained right now,” Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. George Monks said. “With that. it’s compromised our ability to offer good quality of care.”

Oklahoma hospitals have reached a breaking point with COVID-19 numbers climbing by the day. 

Doctors at hospitals in rural Oklahoma say they are feeling much of the strain.  

“I just represent one small hospital, but I can tell you my ICU has been completely full. Staffed out for weeks, if not months,” Dr. Sam Ratermann with Integris Grove Hospital said. “Right now today, half of my total population is all COVID.”

That’s why Oklahoma’s former state epidemiologist Dr. Aaron Windelboe says wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands is still so important.  

“We can prevent approximately ten deaths each day,” Dr. Windelboe said.  Or around 200 deaths before the end of the year if we practice simple prevention efforts.”

However, doctors on the frontlines worry their safety messages are not being taken seriously by some Oklahomans. 

Until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, doctors say they can’t stress enough how important a mask is at slowing the spread of the virus.  

“What’s heartbreaking is to watch patients suffer and die, and watch my exhausted colleagues try to catch their breath under their facemasks and fogged face shields,” Dr. Ratermann said. “Only to see people walk around in the community not wearing masks and doing their part.”