The Oklahoma City area is now the first region in the state to move to Tier 2 of Oklahoma's new hospital surge plan.
More than 15 percent of hospital patients there have COVID-19.
The State Health Department said about 14 percent of hospital patients in the Tulsa region have COVID-19, which means this region remains in Tier 1 of the state's hospital surge plan, but is not far from meeting tier 2 criteria.
That surge plan was released earlier this week to give hospital's guidance about how to treat patients and whether they need to eventually limit elective surgeries, add staff, or take other precautions.
OU's Chief COVID-19 officer Dr. Dale Bratzler said hospitals are struggling, especially those in rural areas where cases per capita are rising.
Bratzler said in some cases patients there have had to be moved to the metro areas.
"Hospitals are asking that people do the things that we know will slow the spread of the virus,” said Bratzler. “Because if we have fewer new cases, we will be able to offload some of the hospitals."
As part of Tier 2 in the hospital's surge plan, some patients who don't need as intensive care can be treated at other facilities, like rehab hospitals.
So far, more than 97,000 people in Oklahoma have recovered from COVID-19.