New data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health revealed the toll COVID-19 is having on Oklahoma's healthcare workers.
The state data through July 30 shows 2,107 positive cases (including 209 active cases) and eight deaths in Oklahoma are from those who reported working in or having direct patient care in a healthcare or long term-care setting.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health data, 6% of all confirmed cases in Oklahoma are from the healthcare industry.
Some Tulsa doctors who have tested positive for COVID-19 said the data is especially concerning since there is a shortage of workers throughout the state.
"It's not just a job for us,” said Dr. Michael Ward of Tulsa. “It is what we live for and what we apparently are taking a chance of dying for."
COVID-19 concerns hit especially hard for Ward, who is still recovering from the infection. He is going through physical therapy and has episodes of extreme fatigue.
"For me, it's agonizing to think that one more person might come down with COVID, including our healthcare workers,” said Ward.
Dr. Christopher Sudduth, cofounder of Remedy Health Direct Primary Care in Tulsa, said he has recovered from COVID-19 but is constantly trying to protect his wife, four children and everyone else.
"In order to avoid contracting this virus again,” explained Sudduth. “Just because I've had it doesn't mean I can't get it again."
Sudduth is a member of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and Healthier Oklahoma Coalition, which consists of healthcare workers across the state. Sudduth said the biggest thing the public can do to help healthcare workers is reduce the number of cases by wearing masks, practice physical distancing and proper sanitizing.
Sudduth also encouraged others to show the world the Oklahoma standard.
"Doing whatever it takes to support one another, that means being gracious, knowing that we don't have all the answers right now,” said Sudduth.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health will release new data from this week related to healthcare workers at this website.
Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association shared with News On 6 this statement:
“The Oklahoma State Medical Association welcomes today’s news that the state will be changing the COVID-19 color-coded alert system to more of a local/regional approach with respect to hospitalization data. We believe this will help health leaders and policymakers make more informed decisions. While we applaud this change, we join Gov. Stitt and Commissioner Frye in expressing our concern about testing capacity and turnaround times. To truly lower our infection rates, Oklahomans must have accurate and timely testing data. This will not only help in identifying cases and minimizing the chance of more extensive disease spread; it can make contract tracing less complicated.
Lastly, and most importantly, everyone must remember the best way to ensure our hospitals are not overrun is to keep people out of them in the first place. That is why it is so essential that Oklahoma’s continue to wear masks in public, maintain physical distance between themselves and others, and practice good hand hygiene.”