Oklahoma Sees Increase In COVID-19 Cases As More People Interact With Others

Tuesday, July 7th 2020, 4:54 pm
By: Mallory Thomas

Health experts said one reason we're seeing an increase in the number of Oklahomans testing positive for COVID-19 is because more people are interacting with each other.

OU Chief COVID-19 Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler said more young people are testing positive for COVID-19 and the latest data shows more people under the age of 50 are being hospitalized because of the virus. 

Barbecues, trips to the lake, and holidays are bringing people together again, but Dr. Bratzler said it's also part of the reason younger people are spreading the virus.

"They're social, they're mobile, and they can infect people that are in high-risk categories like cancer patients, patients with diabetes, or other conditions that put them at particular risk," said Dr. Bratzler. 

Dr. Bratzler said another factor for the increase in positive cases is because more people are getting tested. He said we're seeing fewer people dying from the virus now compared to the month of March, when Oklahoma said it's first positive cases. 

"Six percent of the people who had a test done that was positive would die. I looked at the data this morning and, as of today, the mortality rate for those that have a confirmed test is 2.4 percent," said Dr. Bratzler. 

The latest data from the state shows more than 17,000 Oklahomans have tested positive for the virus. Dr. Bratzler said that number is estimated to be ten times higher because of people who are asymptomatic or don't get tested.

He said to achieve, if it is possible, herd immunity, which means a large portion of the community has become immune to COVID-19, the World Health Organization says 60-70 percent of the population would have to get infected. ​

"Even if the mortality rate of this virus is only about .3 percent, which is half of what WHO recently estimated, about 7200 Oklahomans would die as we got to herd immunity," said Dr. Bratzler.

Even though flu season is still several weeks away, Dr. Bratzler said it's going to be crucial for people to get a flu shot so doctors can tell the difference in COVID-19 symptoms and flu patients.