Rural counties seeing recent uptick in COVID-19 cases

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – New growth in COVID-19 cases is showing up in rural parts of our state.

“Oklahoma County and Tulsa County, because they’re the big population centers in our state, always have the cumulative most cases,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Medicine Enterprise Chief Quality Officer.

Dr. Bratzler says he’s noticed over the last couple of weeks more cases have been reported in rural areas.

“When you look at the population-based prevalence of COVID-19, the new cases in the state, there’s a real growth in rural communities, with the larger metropolitan areas having slower growth of new cases,” said Bratzler.

Bratzler says some of those cases can be attributed to recent outbreaks in Oklahoma’s prisons.

“Of course, everybody is aware that there have been some correctional facilities with large outbreaks in the state,” he said.

William S. Key Correctional Facility in Woodward County accounted for about 400 new cases on Monday. Correctional facilities in Garfield and Craig County also reported significant upticks in cases of the virus.

“Hospitalizations are way up,” he said.

From Friday to Monday, more than 100 new COVID-19 patients were reported as hospitalized, causing concerns over the impact flu season may have on our state’s hospital capacity.

“I think all of our hospitals in our state are somewhat concerned that we could have some capacity issues if we see a bad outbreak of flu season along with what’s happening right now with COVID-19,” he said.

Fortunately, Dr. Bratzler says many of the things we are already doing to prevent COVID-19 can also help stave off the flu, like getting vaccinated, mask wearing and social distancing.

“Anything we can do to decrease the number of influenza cases we have in our state is going to be very, very important,” he said.

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