The strain on Oklahoma’s hospitals continues to grow.
As of Monday night’s count, 1,381 Oklahomans are hospitalized for COVID-19, and 390 are in intensive care units, both the highest they’ve been so far during the pandemic.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said last week he and other health experts are constantly discussing with Gov. Kevin Stitt all potential options to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Frye was asked at a news conference Monday what harm it would do at this point to implement a statewide mask requirement, something he has said is too difficult to enforce.
"Well, I can recommend it, I just can’t mandate it, and we do recommend it. Absolutely recommend it," Frye said before being asked to clarify. "We recommend everybody in the state to wear a mask, but that’s semantics on words. We recommend everyone to wear a mask."
There have been several reports of hospitals running out of beds and unable to transfer patients. Frye says state officials are working with hospitals to help them manage the load and direct patients to the nearest available bed.
"We’re also working on selective surgical reductions. So, we have some hospitals have already developed their plans and sent them to me and we’re going to continue to work with the hospital association to make sure that everyone is getting those plans developed and can start working that way as well," Frye said.
Three of Oklahoma’s eight hospital regions, including Tulsa County, are tier two at of the state’s four-tier hospital surge plan, where reducing elective procedures is a possible intervention. Three more are at tier three, meaning at least 20% of staffed beds have been filled with COVID patients for three or more days.