Oklahoma doctors fear hospitalizations will rise as new COVID-19 case numbers surge

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Doctors warn that the worst is yet to come after the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma and as the Sooner State continues to shatter record after record.

Last week alone, Oklahoma had five records broken in terms of COVID-19 numbers. Because of the large number of cases the state is seeing, the Oklahoma State Department of Health released a rare Saturday update to the statewide COVID-19 case count.

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The more than 14,000 new COVID-19 cases reported Saturday marked the worst single-day caseload since the pandemic started in March 2020. Health officials also reported that more than 88,000 Oklahomans are infected with the virus.

Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Health’s chief COVID-19 officer, said he’s worried the hospitalization numbers will soon catch up with the number of cases Oklahoma is seeing. He said the omicron variant is less likely to put people in the intensive care unit, but there is still a risk.

“Throughout most of the pandemic, about one-third of the people who had COVID-19 that were in the hospital ended up in the intensive care unit at any point in time,” Bratzler said. “Right now, we’re running about 22-23% of the people in the hospital with COVID-19 are ending up in the ICU.”

There is some hopeful news, with Bratzler saying he doesn’t expect this peak to last much longer. He also said while Oklahoma has this very infectious variant, it’s important to stay home if you can and to upgrade your mask to a medical-grade one because cloth ones are no longer recommended.