Oklahoma health officials brace for post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFO) – While we all hoped the coronavirus would be little to no concern this Thanksgiving, it won’t. Health leaders in Oklahoma say COVID-19 remains high on the agenda this holiday weekend, with a worrying rise in new cases in the past two weeks.

“We all have to decide what the risk is to ourselves and our families when we get together,” said Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

Her concern is an increase in new COVID cases in Oklahoma. In the past two weeks, the seven-day moving average of new cases has risen by 246. The average was 561 new cases on November 10 and it was 807 on November 24.

“We knew we were going to increase. That wasn’t a question,” she says. “The difference is that the increase is about two weeks earlier than we predicted. So we exacerbated a little bit of that increase by starting two weeks ahead. and because we started two weeks ahead, we have more people with COVID who will spread it on Thanksgiving and may not know it.”

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

Clarke encourages people to consider a COVID test before eating with others, depending on who you’re dining with and each individual’s vaccine status.

“If you have two or three or four people who are at really high risk, you might want to consider getting all adults tested,” she said. “You can consider the people who haven’t been vaccinated to get tested.”

New data released Wednesday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that 61 percent of Oklahoma’s over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated, which is quite lower than the 85 percent where state health leaders such as Dr. Clarke, hoping to go into this holiday weekend.

The chairman of OSMA had a special message for those who have not been vaccinated and who have already contracted the COVID virus.

“We still have people who haven’t been vaccinated and infected who think because they’ve had the infection, so they’re free [and have immunity]. We now know that’s not true,” she explained. “The people who had an infection earlier in the year may feel overly confident, but they’re going to lose their immunity and it’s going to happen around the same time as what we’re talking about now. That’s part of the concern that we have. We have a lot of people who still haven’t been vaccinated and who are too confident, and they’re going to get it and spread it again.”

OU Health Chief COVID-19 Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler also weighed in on some thoughts for Thanksgiving, noting that there are still asymptomatic cases.

“We have to be very careful,” he said. “If your family is fully vaccinated, you know the people who sit around the table with you, I think you can feel quite comfortable there. I think you can take off your mask. However, I think the activities you do are in bigger groups, especially indoor events where you are with groups of people you don’t know, that’s where the risk of transmitting the virus will occur.

dr. Clarke also noted that if anyone is considering getting an over-the-counter COVID test before getting together with their friends and family, they should be very diligent in following the directions to ensure accurate results.

Continued coverage of the coronavirus

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