Oklahoma health officials provide July 4th COVID-19 guidance

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Fourth of July scene with sparklers and the American flag. Photographed in low light using the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma State Department of Health officials are asking community members to have fun with their loved ones this Fourth of July, but to also stay safe from COVID-19.

“We hope you take this time to relax with family and friends,” said Dr. Lance Frye, Commissioner of Health for the state of Oklahoma. “However, we want everyone to be cautious when gathering this weekend, especially if you have not been vaccinated, as some areas across the state are seeing an uptick in recent case numbers. Some COVID-19 variants, particularly the Delta variant, are more transmissible among people who haven’t received the vaccine and could potentially cause severe illness.”

OSDH officials recommend community members take the following precautions during Fourth of July celebrations and gatherings:

If you are fully vaccinated:

  • According to CDC and OSDH guidance, you don’t need to wear a mask when gathering indoors or outdoors, unless required by local law or business guidance. However, you may still choose to wear a mask if you are attending a crowded gathering or meeting with people who are not vaccinated.
  • You may want to take advantage of the summer weather and celebrate outdoors, particularly if you are meeting up with anyone who is not vaccinated.
  • If you plan to travel, you may be required to wear a mask on planes, buses or other public transportation.

If you are not vaccinated:

  • OSDH and the CDC recommend you wear a mask if you plan to gather indoors with people outside your household.
  • You may choose not to wear a mask if you plan to gather outdoors in a socially distanced setting.
  • If you plan to travel, you may be required to wear a mask on planes, buses or other public transportation.

The safety guidelines are essential in light of emerging variants of COVID-19, including the highly-contagious Delta variant, OSDH officials said.

“Variants of any virus are to be expected,” said Dr. Gitanjali Pai, Chief Medical Officer for the state of Oklahoma. “However, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously. Cases of COVID-19 in people who have already had the vaccine, known as breakthrough cases, are less likely to occur but possible. If you are vaccinated, it is less likely that you will have a severe or life-threatening case of COVID-19 if you do become infected. The Delta variant poses a significant risk to those who have not been vaccinated, though, because it spreads more easily than other strains and, like all strains, can cause severe illness in unvaccinated people.” 

OSDH officials provided the following timely COVID-19 statistics:

  • 737 total breakthrough cases have occurred, representing fewer than 0.05% of fully vaccinated Oklahomans
  • A total of 54 cases of the Delta variant have been detected in the state through sequencing, and 778 total cases of variants have been detected in the state through sequencing
  • 53.2% of Oklahomans 12+ have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 45.6% of Oklahomans 12+ are fully vaccinated
  • 90% of recent hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are patients who have not yet received the vaccine.

Officials stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.

“The best way you can protect yourself against more transmissible variants like the Delta variant is to get vaccinated,” said Keith Reed, Deputy Commissioner with OSDH. “Right now, the evidence we have shows that the FDA Emergency Use Authorized vaccines currently in use are largely effective against variants of COVID-19. If you’re unvaccinated, we ask that you please take other precautions such as the three W’s — wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.”

Go to oklahoma.gov/covid19 for resources on finding a COVID-19 vaccine near you.

Read OSDH’s Weekly Epidemiology Report for more information on variants, sequencing and vaccination data.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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