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Surge In COVID-19 Hospitalizations Worries Oklahoma Doctor

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Oklahoma topped 900 Thursday for the first time since February, and a nursing shortage at a time like this has a University of Oklahoma doctor worried.

There were 954 hospitalizations, with 274 under intensive care, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

“Back in January, February, we handled the capacity with the big numbers of cases. We can’t do it now because we don’t have enough nurses and personnel to take care of all of those patients,” according to OU Health Dr. Dale Bratzler.

“Just because you have a bed available doesn’t mean you can staff it,” Bratzler said.

OU Health, with three hospitals plus clinics statewide, has a 19% nursing shortage, an estimated 400 unfilled positions, said spokesperson April Sandefer.

The increase in COVID-19 cases is due to the highly contagious delta variant and a low rate of vaccinations against the coronavirus, according to health officials.

In Oklahoma, 40.6% of residents have been fully vaccinated compared to a national average of 49.9%, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The health department reported 2,342 new coronavirus cases and a seven-day average of 1,832 new cases daily, up from 1,268 a week ago.

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