State Health Department officials urge Oklahomans to get COVID-19 vaccine, governor approves emergency rules in hospitals

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma health officials gave an update Friday on the COVID-19 situation in the state.

“If you’re not going to rely on people to do what they need to do, I think we’re in trouble,” Dr. Lance Frye, Commissioner of Health said.

As COVID-19 cases rise, state officials continue to push vaccinations.

“Your decision to get the vaccine helps protect young children who cannot get the vaccine and are returning to in-person school this month. We want to keep them safe in the classroom,” Deputy Commissioner of Health Keith Reed said.

Frye said Gov. Kevin Stitt approved new emergency rules on Thursday. 

They allow hospitals to ask the state for approval to expand bed capacity if needed.

Plus, the rules ask hospitals to report breakthrough cases to the state and send ten percent of positive COVID cases to the public health lab for variant testing.

“Sequencing is used on a anonymous basis to track overall trends and spread of variants. Sequencing is not tied to individual test results and health information,” Dr. Gitanjali Pai, Chief Medical Officer, said.

However, the emergency rules are different from an emergency declaration.

Frye says they have all the tools they need right now.

“We feel really good about us being able to take everything that was done underneath the prior emergency declaration and having it put into emergency rules, so we still have the capability to respond,” Frye said.

He also says they’re working with hospitals to figure out how to address a nursing shortage, so there can be more staffed beds.

Despite the CDC recommending vaccinated people wear masks in places with high transmission, Frye says you can think about who you are, where you are and what you’re doing to decide if you should wear one.

“We’re encouraging Oklahomans to use a check list to assess personal health risk and take precautions against COVID-19,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dale Bratzler at OU Health is also urging Oklahomans to do their part.

“If we could overnight get everybody vaccinated, we would dramatically reduce the number of cases and in particular would dramatically reduce the number of people in the hospital,” he said. “I believe personal responsibility goes beyond doing what’s best for you. Some people have said it’s your societal obligation protecting people around you.”

The governor’s office says, “The governor trusts the leadership of Commissioner Frye and the experts at the Oklahoma State Department of Health and has full confidence in their ability to provide an update to the public.”

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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