Oklahoma reaches record high numbers for COVID-19 hospitalizations

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By Shalene White



Every state attempts to reach levels of notoriety by being known for something spectacular. Texas is known world-wide for its BBQ, the Alamo and being the Live Music Capital of the world. Neighboring Louisiana is famous for Jazz music, Cajun food, and of course, the annual festival before Easter, Mardi Gras.

Even though Oklahoma is well-known for its beautiful red dirt and massive amount of oil rigs, it seems it is looking at adding another thing to its notoriety level; a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported as of September 23, 2020, the number of positive cases is astonishing; 80,161. The OSDH also reported that 552 people were hospitalized on September 21, followed by 546 on September 22.

These numbers bypassed the previous peak of 530 hospitalizations on July 28, 2020.

In a press release on September 21, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said there is probably a good explanation for the sudden surge in numbers. Stitt said he thinks the increase is due to previous underreporting from some hospitals who are now sending in the updated numbers.

State health officials warn of the increasing hospitalization numbers, stating that typically deaths follow hospitalizations. The uptick of numbers also puts a strain on the already strained amount of available hospital beds. If COVID patients are taking up the beds, that leaves less beds for people experiencing other health issues. This is especially troubling with Flu season approaching at a rapid rate.

In the press conference, Stitt tried to allay residents’ fears by informing them that even though the numbers have skyrocketed, Oklahoma is still low comparatively. Oklahoma is teetering at the 14th top spot in terms of positivity rate in the US.

Stitt also stated that there is some positive news through all the bleakness; Oklahoma’s recovery rate. Oklahoma has the 14th lowest death rate per capita. This means that 60-percent more Oklahomans than the national average are recovering.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the odds for hospitalization and death from COVID-19 increase with age, naturally. The odds for hospitalization for children under the age of four is four times lower than the 18-29 age group. The odds increase as the ages do; 30 to 39-year age group’s odds increase two times, and the 85-year-old and older group’s chances increase 13 times more than the 18 to 29-year old age group.

The odds for death from COVID-19 are unnervingly higher. For the age group of 40 to 49, the odds are 10 times higher than the 18 to 29 group, and the 85 and older group’s odds increase 630 times.

The state has a contingency plan if things turn dire, however. First, they plan to enlist the military for assistance. They also created the Oklahoma Hospital Surge Plan. This plan was made to “protect the health and lives of Oklahomans by ensuring each patient goes to the closest most appropriate hospital in the right amount of time with the right treatment, ensure the stability of the health system for all patients, increase hospital capacity and capability to accommodate a surge of critically ill patients, and protect the wellness of all front-line workers.”

To view this entire plan, visit https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/sites/g/files/gmc786/f/final_revised_hospital_surge_plan.pdf.