A Warning for Oklahoma

Oklahoma ranks 41st out of 51 (including DC) in the United States in percentage of persons fully vaccinated with only 38.71% (Becker Hospital Review).

Oklahoma is experiencing an increase in daily new cases of COVID-19 with a seven day average of 278 cases per day. This is the highest seven day average since April 17. By comparison, the seven day of average of new daily cases was only 103 on June 8 (Oklahoma State Department of Health). Oklahoma currently ranks 7th in the nation in its COVID-19 test positivity rate according to the CDC. We also know that the Delta variant is becoming the dominant variant, and it is both more contagious and deadly.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Oklahoma are beginning to increase again with 146 Oklahomans currently hospitalized (Oklahoma State Department of Health). We are seeing an increase in the percentage of persons with COVID-19 in Oklahoma being hospitalized. According to Dr. David Kendrick of the MyHealth Access Network, “Across the state, nearly 28% of people who have had a positive COVID-19 test in the last two weeks were admitted to hospitals” (The Oklahoman, July 7, 2021).

8,616 Oklahomans have lost their lives to COVID-19 according to the CDC – 1,228 more deaths than the COVID-19 death count being reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

I know we want this to be over, but it’s not, and it is especially not over in states like Oklahoma where we have failed to vaccinate the majority of our citizens.

In my opinion, and as I said at the time, the CDC made a mistake in lifting recommendations to wear masks for fully vaccinated persons. In effect the recommendation has led to an almost fully maskless society before vaccination rates are at an optimal level. It might have been medically warranted for fully vaccinated people to be able not to wear masks at the time the recommendation was lifted, but psychologically it led to a situation where we have let our guard down and are allowing this killer to gain traction once again.

With only 38.71% of Oklahomans fully vaccinated, and with no masking and social distancing, look for Oklahoma’s COVID-19 numbers to continue to rise and be prepared for a deadly summer and fall. Eventually the new variants will make their way back into our nursing centers and retirement communities and affect the most vulnerable among us, and who knows what more deadly and more contagious variants are to come.

And if you think being vaccinated makes you fully immune, you have not done your research. Vaccines provide much greater protection than one would have without being vaccinated, but they do not make us fully immune to COVID-19. More breakthrough cases are occurring with the more contagious Delta variant. We may well find ourselves on a vaccine treadmill for years to come, constantly attempting to keep up with new variants because we seem incapable of taking appropriate public health measures.

Be proactive, get vaccinated, convince others to get vaccinated, take precautions not to be in crowds of people, and as sad as I am to say this, start wearing masks again in indoor public spaces per the recommendation of the World Health Organization.

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