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COVID Hospitalizations Surge In Parts Of NE Oklahoma; More Admissions Than At Any Point Previously

A still image from a video from inside the COVID ward of INTEGRIS Hospital in Miami, Okla., posted to the hospital's Facebook page.

A northeast Oklahoma hospital system is sounding the alarm amid a record surge in the number of patients being admitted with COVID-19. 

"Both INTEGRIS Miami Hospital and INTEGRIS Grove Hospital are seeing more inpatients now due to the virus than even at the height of the pandemic," INTEGRIS Health said in a statement attached to a video from inside the Miami COVID ward. 

"Everybody's trying to keep their spirits up," Dr. Justin Mitchell, hospitalist and family physician, says in the video while leading a tour of the unit. "I think just like the rest of the country, we were hoping that this thing was winding down and over with, but unfortunately that's not the case and we've got to face that fact."

"I think that the rest of Oklahoma's probably not too far behind. You know, this is a very infectious variant and it's been spreading pretty quickly up here, so I think it's probably just a matter of time before it makes its way down to the Tulsa area, Oklahoma City area," Mitchell said.

Oklahoma ranks near the absolute bottom nationally in terms of percent of the population vaccinated against the disease, and INTEGRIS noted in their statement that Ottawa and Delaware counties have even lower rates, at 23% and 25% respectively.

"Mass vaccinations, masks and social distancing are critical to regaining control of the situation," the hospital system said. "If no action is taken, what is happening in Northeastern Oklahoma will continue to spread and we could very easily be right back where we started, with high rates of illness and very few hospital beds. Health systems around the state are quietly preparing for that possibility. Let’s do what we need to do now, to ensure that doesn’t happen again."

In neighboring Missouri, at least one Springfield hospital has requested state assistance to erect a field hospital to deal with rapidly climbing numbers of COVID patients. 

INTEGRIS says 99% of patients hospitalized or killed by COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“People are not getting the message,” said Dr. Clark Osborn, a family medicine physician at INTEGRIS Miami, in a statement. “COVID-19 is not a thing of the past. It is happening right now in the present.”

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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