“These deaths are preventable,” Oklahoma doctors look back at 6,200 COVID-19 deaths

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As more Oklahomans become vaccinated against COVID-19, health data shows that hospitalizations and deaths are on the decline in the Sooner State.

On Tuesday, data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that the state has had 619,738 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March of 2020.

That’s an increase of 682 cases since Monday, Oct. 4.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma has seen 10,479 deaths as of Tuesday.

At this point, officials say there were 885 Oklahomans hospitalized with COVID-19 on average over the past three days. 

Although cases and deaths have started to decline across the country, health officials say the United States hit a grim milestone.

The U.S. hit 700,000 COVID-19 related deaths, which includes the nearly 10,500 deaths in Oklahoma.

Dr. Aaron Wendelboe, epidemiologist and professor at the OU College of Public Health, says Oklahoma’s deaths are equivalent to the entire population of Warr Acres, Clinton, Guymon, or The Village.

Since the vaccines were released, there have been 6,400 COVID-19 related deaths in Oklahoma.

Of those deaths, 129 were people who were fully vaccinated, meaning 98% of the deaths were among unvaccinated patients. Dr. Wendelboe stresses that the death rate is 132 times higher for the unvaccinated versus the vaccinated.

“The bottom line is we could have prevented roughly 6,200 COVID related deaths with more vaccines. That is approximately equal to the size of Pauls Valley or Anadarko,” said Wendelboe.

“Very sombering. It’s difficult. We talked about it last night at our coalition. It causes great heartache really and pause,” said Dr. Jean Hausheer, leader of the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition COVID-19 Task Force.

While looking at COVID-19 related deaths, Oklahoma doctors say they are also looking at the consequences of those deaths.

Dr. Jennifer Hays-Grudo says one out of every 16 of those 6,200 deaths had a child that was depending on them.

In the United States alone, more than 40,000 children have already lost at least one parent to COVID-19.

Doctors say that the loss of a parent can have a detrimental impact on a child’s development, while the loss could also lead to an economic strain on the family.

“I want to emphasize that these deaths are preventable, the vast majority of them. And so if we do a better job of getting our family, our friends vaccinated, then we don’t actually have to see an increase in deaths again,” Dr. Wendelboe said.

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