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Oklahoma health leaders speak to Omicron and another surge is possible as COVID-19 cases rise

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma health leaders talked about the Omicron variant Tuesday amid rising cases and another potential spike.

More than 4,000 cases were reported in Oklahoma on Tuesday as the number of hospitalizations has now reached 1,000. Nine other Oklahomans have died from the virus. State health leaders are sounding the alarm again, saying we may not even reach the expected peak until mid-February.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health said that Omicron variation is on the rise in Oklahoma. Health Department Interim Commissioner Keith Reed said they “anticipate that will continue.” Other experts add that the outbreak has exceeded the peak we have seen with the rise of Delta.

“We believe Omicron is the predominant COVID-19 strain in Oklahoma at this time,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, COVID-19 Director at the University of Oklahoma.

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OU Health COVID Director, Dr. Dale Bratzler

On Tuesday night, surveillance data from the Oklahoma Public Health Laboratory also showed it was on the rise. Recent sequencing information shows admixture of Omicron variant in 57% of specimens while Delta variant is in 43% of them.

“We should be even more cautious, but also think long-term that we will continue to see spikes and falls,” said Dr Aaron Wendelboe, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Oklahoma. “We had about 4,100 cases reported once during the August surge. We have exceeded 4,100 cases twice in the current surge and we expect those numbers to continue to rise. ”

Wendelboe said his modeling projects increased in cases and hospitalizations until at least mid-February. Although doctors say Omicron may not be as serious as other variants, it is still very contagious. Hospitals are worried about a spike in cases, experts say, with 92% of all patients at hospitals in Oklahoma unvaccinated.

“Our hospitals are very full right now and they are full of sick people,” said Patti Davis of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. “So we’re very busy and hospitals are scared by what we’re seeing.”

More than 100 hospital admissions in a day also skyrocketed. All of this is happening because testing in the state has dropped slightly due to a national supply shortfall. Crest delayed the appointment at their Edmond test site just this week.

“Right now, they’re in short supply, so it’s hard to find them,” Bratzler said. “The health departments are even having a hard time getting them.”

While cases continue to rise, doctors say hospitalizations and deaths have not been as rapid. Meanwhile, IMMY Labs is offering testing at six subway locations, and the Oklahoma Department of Health is extending business hours due to an increase in cases. They plan to roll out test units across the state and offer weekend appointments.

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https://kfor.com/news/coronavirus/oklahoma-health-leaders-talk-omicron-and-another-possible-surge-as-covid-19-cases-rise/ Oklahoma health leaders speak to Omicron and another surge is possible as COVID-19 cases rise

JACLYN DIAZ

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