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As COVID test positivity hits high, Gov. Stitt remains unboosted

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Dr. David Kendrick presents on COVID test positivity in Oklahoma

Health officials report the most rapid rise to date in COVID test positivity is happening in Oklahoma now.

University of Oklahoma’s Chair of Informatics Dr. David Kendrick said a spike began Dec. 24. As of Tuesday, the state is at 28% COVID test positivity.

Kendrick said that matches the highest day: Jan. 3 of last year. The rise to that point in 2021 was slower, though.

Hospital admissions have also quickly spiked. 965 people are hospitalized with COVID. OU’s Dr. Aaron Wendelboe said hospitalizations increased by 130 patients in just one day from Monday to Tuesday.

“What can we do to prevent severe disease and death? These vaccines are important,” said Wendelboe.

Despite this, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office confirmed he still hasn’t gotten a second shot after his Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March.

Dr. Stan Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer at the Northeastern Oklahoma Business Coalition on Health, said Stitt is vulnerable to infection.

“That particular situation of getting a J&J vaccine a year ago would leave somebody with very, very minimal protection.”

Past President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association Dr. Jean Hausheer said a booster is definitely recommended.

“What we know now versus what we knew a year ago is different. So we do recommend getting your second shot after J&J now.”

Dr. Dale Bratzler said it’s proven vaccine efficacy fades.

“Multiple studies have shown when you get your first priming series of the vaccines, antibody levels start falling off very quickly. With the RNA vaccines they start falling off after 4 months. With J&J, probably faster.”

As he has done in the past, Bratzler again pointed out it’s not unusual for vaccines to require a booster.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.