OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Health officials continue to stress that COVID-19 is still spreading in the community.

Recently, state health leaders said that there were more than 9,500 positive COVID-19 tests in Oklahoma.

However, data released from the Oklahoma State Department of Health doesn’t include at-home test results.

“As far as reporting at-home tests, at this time, our reports do not include any home testing results, either those incidentally reported to us or to CDC. Reporting of the results is not necessary due to the test accuracy itself, but because we cannot verify who the test was conducted on nor how the specimen was collected.” 

Erica Rankin, public information officer for the Oklahoma State Department of Health

Dr. David Chansolme, medical director of infection prevention at INTEGRIS Health, says the weekly data does not accurately reflect how many cases are present in the community.

“The answer is it’s a small, small portion of the positive cases. A lot of entities think that the real number is probably seven to ten times higher than that. Just in my personal experience in having talked to patients, most patients are diagnosing themselves at home now and, of course, that information isn’t publicly transmittable since it’s not through an accredited lab,” said Dr. Chansolme.

Using that math, Dr. Chansolme says there might be as many as 1 million COVID-19 cases per day in the United States.

The reason for the uptick in cases is the new variant.

“If you look at the current breakdown of variant subtypes in the United States, about 75 to 80% of the variants are the BA5 variant,” he said.

Dr. Chansolme says BA5 can evade previous immunity that people have through vaccines or a previous infection.

“Because of that, we’re seeing new cases. The good news is that hospitalizations are still, comparatively to what we’ve had in the past, pretty low,” he said. “Whether or not that changes remains to be seen. Right now, again, the BA5 variant is the predominant subtype. It does not cause as severe disease as the Delta variant that we saw over a year ago. But it still can cause occasional severe disease in people who have risk factors.”

Dr. Chansolme says that you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself from severe infection.