The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 1,082 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day report since late February as the state was coming off of a winter surge in infections.
It is not currently known when the cases reported Wednesday were acquired, but younger people and the Delta variant appear to be driving the spike. Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis said Tuesday half of current infections are in people aged 15 to 44, which presents a real problem with the start of a new school year just weeks away.
"As we get ready to start thinking about back to school, we need to have the conversation now. We know from last fall that the numbers increased rapidly, and with this Delta variant being more communicable than the earlier version, we are very concerned about that," Davis said during a virtual update from the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition.
The state's seven-day average of new cases has climbed to 497 since dropping to around 100 in early June. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 has killed 8,654 Oklahomans.
Tulsa County, which has a vaccination rate better than the state average, tallied 613 new cases in the past week, the most since early March.
Hospitalizations are rising because of the 15- to 44-year-old age group as well. OU Health Dr. Brent Brown said unvaccinated people are at exceptional risk right now.
"Our experience in the people we've had admitted the past couple weeks is that they are exclusively unvaccinated. So, we have not had anybody yet that has had a vaccination failure, although that's certainly described in rare occasions in the literature," Brown said.
Oklahoma continues to rank among the lowest states for virus genetic sequencing and vaccination. Infections are increasing fastest in northeast Oklahoma. Experts believe a bad outbreak in Missouri has spread across state lines.