Oklahoma’s COVID-19 numbers show decline | The Journal Record πŸ’₯πŸ‘©πŸ‘©πŸ’₯

Oklahoma’s numbers related to COVID-19 finally are heading the right direction: downward. But health care providers are still urging Oklahomans to get vaccinated.
(Photo by Mufid Majnun via Unsplash)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s COVID-19 numbers finally are heading the right direction: downward. But health care providers are still urging Oklahomans to get vaccinated. New treatments that can be taken orally or through the nose may provide the boost needed to provide more protection from COVID-19.

β€œOur vaccination rate needs to be better than it is,” said Jean Hausheer, past president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and leader of the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition, which held a media briefing online on Tuesday. β€œIt’s time people listen and move forward.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicates that 48.1% of Oklahoma’s population is fully vaccinated as of Oct. 5, less than the national average of 56.4%. More than 2 million Oklahomans, or 56% of the population, have received at least one dose. The state has administered 83% of the doses it has received.

The reasons people hold off on getting vaccinated vary widely. Some people just don’t like needles and are reluctant to get yet another shot, said Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

β€œThere are a lot of people who aren’t getting a vaccine because they don’t want to be stuck,” Clarke said, noting that they may already be getting injected to protect them from pneumonia, shingles and seasonal flu.

β€œIf we’re really talking about the virus that is going to be with us into the likely future, the real goal is going to have to be something that primary doctors … can do easily on an outpatient basis,” Clarke said.

Currently, 10 non-injectable treatments for COVID-19 are under development worldwide, Clarke said. Taken orally or through the nose, these new treatments can greatly advance the fight against COVID-19, presented in a form that is more easily transported and stored, and which the population may be more receptive to receive.

Statewide, the positivity rate for those tested for COVID-19 has dropped to 12.4%, said David Kendrick, founder and CEO of MyHealth Access Network and department chair of medical informatics at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine.

β€œIt’s continuing to come down fairly steadily, which is good news,” Kendrick said.

Tulsa’s positivity rate is around 14%, and Oklahoma City’s positivity rate has dropped to 9%. The age group showing the greatest rate of positivity is 36- to 49-year-olds, at 15.4%.

Actual cases of COVID-19 are also in decline, and the rate of hospital admissions has leveled off at around 22%, Kendrick said. Hospital admissions are still a concern, however. Those being hospitalized are trending younger, and they may benefit from more aggressive treatment – which means low mortality rates but longer stays in the ICU, Kendrick said, limiting the beds available.

The seven-day average for COVID-19 cases last week was around 9,000, said Aaron Wendelboe, epidemiologist and professor at the OU College of Public Health. The average number of daily hospitalizations was 89.

Oklahoma has seen nearly 9,000 COVID-related deaths using the state’s metrics, or 10,472 using the CDC’s metrics, Wendelboe said. That’s roughly the population of Clinton, Blanchard or The Village, he said.

β€œWhich disaster in the state’s history compares to losing the entire population of a city of this size?” Wendelboe said.

The mortality rate for the unvaccinated is about 2%, compared to 1.2% for the vaccinated, and 98% of the deaths since January have been unvaccinated people, he said. Those numbers would indicate that roughly 6,000 COVID-19 related deaths could possibly have been prevented by vaccination, Wendelboe said.

Coronavirus vaccinations have helped reduce COVID-19 infections by 7,500 and deaths by 1,100 among Oklahomans aged 65 and older, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The study of Medicare recipients found that as vaccinations increased from January, when the vaccines became more widely available, through May, each 10% increase in vaccination rates resulted in an 11-12% decline in weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare beneficiaries.

In a weekly report on Sept. 29, 91.1% of Oklahomans 65 or older had received at least one vaccination and 79.8% were fully vaccinated, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The three-day average of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on Tuesday stood at 825, the Health Department reported. The average on Monday fell below 1,000 daily for the first time since mid-August.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Oklahoma’s COVID-19 numbers show decline | The Journal Record

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