OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – One of the state’s top doctors called on Gov. Kevin Stitt to do more for hospitals after a recent uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations, however, not all state medical leader agree.
Dr. George Monks, the former Oklahoma State Medical Association President, suggested Stitt declare a new Emergency Health Declaration, after the 2020 order expired in early May.
According to INTEGRIS officials, there has been a 26 percent rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the last week with an average of 175 patients in the hospital over the past three days.
“The patients that are dying are almost exclusively unvaccinated patients,” said current OSMA President Dr. Mary Clarke.
The CDC reports the Delta Variant is the United States’ dominate strain. Local health leaders say the COVID-19 variant is hitting unvaccinated residents in Northeastern Oklahomans hard.
“You get some symptoms [that] aren’t too bad,” said Dr. Sam Ratermann, President of the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians. “Then all of a sudden, it hits you really hard.”
On Thursday, Dr. Monks took to Twitter to urge Stitt to order a new emergency declaration. He tweeted it would allow “hospitals more flexibility to increase the number of COVID beds and increase staff.”
“I’m not convinced that’s the way to go at this moment in time,” said Dr. Clarke.
Dr. Clarke said health leaders need more information before making a move.
“We need strain data. We need that desperately,” she said. “And the more data we start seeing, more issues with the spread, we may change that sort of support recommendation.”
The State Department of Health said it plans to discuss variants, breakthrough cases and give an update on the state’s Pandemic Lab on Friday Morning.
In a statement to KFOR, State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone said, “We will evaluate and communicate with local hospitals and government officials to provide support and assistance if needed.” She adds the department is “sequencing as many samples as we can to obtain a full picture of what is currently happening in Oklahoma.”
“I know they’re having some issues. Trying to get positive tests to them. I understand that,” said Dr. Clarke.
Monks also tweeted about vaccine boosters, tweeting, “If I had the one shot J&J, I would now be getting a booster dose with Pfizer or Moderna.”
However, according to Dr. Clarke, several studies on that are still underway and right now it is not yet recommended.