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Oklahoma 'Almost Inevitably Going to Overload' Hospitals as COVID Infections Keep Rising

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KWGS News file photo
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Oklahoma has set nine records for COVID hospitalizations this month, three of them coming this week.

The state ended the week with new records of 1,505 Oklahomans hospitalized and 450 in intensive care unit beds. OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler expects that will only get worse.

"We’re almost inevitably going to overload the hospitals in Oklahoma in the relatively near future. Just consider the fact that we had 20,000 new cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma in the past seven days, and typically, 10% to 12% of the people who test positive end up in the hospital," Bratzler said.

There are new projections based on current COVID trends in Oklahoma from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

"They suggest that by the week of Christmas, we’ll have 1,000 more people in the hospital than we do today, and at the end of the first week of January we could have a doubling of the number of people that are currently hospitalized in Oklahoma," Bratzler said.

In a COVID update streamed live Friday, Bratzler was asked whether new restrictions announced by Gov. Kevin Stitt this week would make an impact.

"I think it’s too little, too late right now," Bratzler said.

Stitt issued an executive order requiring masks in state buildings and closing bars and dine-in restaurant service at 11 p.m.

Bratzler said if everyone starts wearing a mask, hospitalizations could start falling in about three weeks.

The last time fewer than 1,000 Oklahomans were hospitalized for COVID-19 was Nov. 2.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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