OU chief COVID officer says reopening doesn’t mean back to normal

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – OU Health Officials say hospitalization numbers will likely continue to climb as an increasing percentage of COVID-19 tests in Oklahoma come back positive for the virus.

“We have reached a peak higher than any other point during the pandemic here in the state,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler.

The Chief COVID officer for OU is talking about Tuesday’s record 228 new COVID-19 cases.

“We are bending the curve sadly in the wrong direction,” said Bratzler.

He says despite what the State Health Department has said, the upward trend in the last 10 days is not just merely an increase in testing numbers.

“The increase in the number of cases is because there are more testing positive not because we are doing more tests than we were a few weeks ago,” said Bratzler.

The Oklahoma State Health Department today issuing a statement saying,

“Oklahoma has seen an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases over the past two weeks. This increase in cases is caused by ongoing community transmission and increased social activity.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has acknowledged that there are a variety of ways to present COVID-19 data, and we are pleased about receiving national recognition for our transparency in data efforts, which is available in our daily Executive Order COVID-19 Report, weekly epidemiology report and coronavirus website dashboard.
Just as there are a variety ways of presenting the data, there are multiple benchmarks prescribed by the federal gating criteria. The OSDH has continued to report rolling data consistent with that criteria. We have recognized and called attention to COVID-19 hot spots and positive case spikes regularly so that we can make the public aware of local risks and how to protect themselves.”

Bratzler says the increase in cases does go against the CDC recommendations for reopening, but even with a jump today in hospitalizations, Oklahoma still has bed space and death rates remain flat. He say it’s more about individuals taking personal protective steps in public.

“Reopening doesn’t mean back to normal. What we are seeing now is community spread because people are not wearing masks.”

Dr. Bratzler says outdoor activities are safe if social distancing is observed. Indoor transmission is the bigger factor.

“We still have to wear a mask. We still need to practice personal distancing because those are the interventions that are the best at preventing person to person transmission of this virus.”

Dr. Bratzler does point out a lot of the new positive cases are in younger Oklahomans, which tend to not suffer life threatening COVID 19 symptoms.

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