Oklahoma hospitalizations due to COVID surge above 700

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/08/2020 10:30 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number hospitalizations in Oklahoma due to the illness caused by the coronavirus surged above 700 on Wednesday to a new record one-day high.

The number of people hospitalized, either confirmed with COVID-19 or under investigation for infection, reached 738, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health, an increase of 39 from Tuesday.

While Oklahoma has seen a slight decrease in both new cases and test positivity over the last week, the state still far exceeds the national average in both categories and remains in the red zone with high levels of community transmission and “many preventable deaths," according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force Reportreleased on Wednesday.

The report recommends limiting the size of group gatherings and restricting indoor dining and bar hours in high transmission zones.

State officials are working with hospitals to move patients to facilities with more bed capacity, said Oklahoma National Guard Lt. Col. Matt Stacy, who has coordinated the state's surge plan.

Contracts with hospitals included in the plan, announced in August by Gov. Kevin Stitt, included 245 hospital beds in Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa, have expired but can be renewed, Stacy said. 

“Even though with those contracts are now canceled, we have the option to turn those back on, there’s a period to do that," according to Stacy. "In addition to that, we also have a long standing contract from the very first surge plan with Integris hospital system to activate 95 beds there, should the need arise. 

"We understand the hospitals ... they’re stressed with COVID patients.” Stacy said.

There were a reported 94,352 coronavirus cases on Wednesday and 1,075 deaths due to COVID, 1,006 more cases and nine more deaths than reported Tuesday, the department said. The true number of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

Today, Oklahoma’s leading health care groups representing the state’s physicians and nurses called on all Oklahomans to take steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus and the flu.

Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. George Monks called on Oklahomans to voluntarily wear masks, socially distance, frequently wash their hands and to get a flu shot.

“With COVID already placing a strain on the health care system and an active flu season still ahead of us, we are calling on everyone to practice the things that will help keep themselves and their fellow Oklahomans healthy,” Monks said in a statement.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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