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Oklahoma Health Officials Urge Vaccinations Amid COVID Spike

State health commissioner Dr. Lance Frye during a virtual COVID-19 press briefing on Friday.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma health officials on Friday urged more residents to get vaccinated amid an alarming spike in new cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19, particularly in the northeastern part of the state.

Oklahoma is seeing an uptick in cases with the emergence of the new delta variant, particularly in rural areas where there are lower rates of vaccinations, said Oklahoma Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye. He said those numbers will likely continue to increase following the Fourth of July holiday.

“Vaccination numbers for 12-34 years old are particularly low, meaning this demographic is especially at risk,” Frye said. “We want people to get out and enjoy their lives and their freedoms. Vaccination is the way to get there.”

Oklahoma currently has the 11th lowest percentage of its population fully vaccinated at 38.9%, compared to a national average of 47.8%, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Oklahoma has risen over the past two weeks from 190.29 new cases per day on June 23 to 278.71 new cases per day on July 7, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Oklahoma currently ranks 11th in the nation for most new cases per capita over the last two weeks. Neighboring Arkansas and Missouri rank No. 1 and 2, respectively.

Meanwhile, the CDC on Friday said it identified 47 COVID-19 cases in April and May associated with a central Oklahoma gymnastics facility, including 23 gymnasts, three staff members and 21 of their household contacts. All of the specimens that were tested were identified as the more contagious delta variant, the CDC said. The CDC did not publicly identify the facility.

Of the 47 cases, the CDC reported 40 of those infected were unvaccinated, many of them because they were too young to receive a vaccine. The ages of those infected ranged from 5 to 58, with a median age of 14, the CDC reported. Among the 47 cases, two adult patients, both of whom were unvaccinated, were hospitalized, including one who required intensive care.

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