With 885 Oklahomans in the hospital with COVID-19 and more than 300 people in the ICU, healthcare leaders are calling for action to keep cases down.
Healthcare leaders in Tulsa said they're facing critical shortages of nurses to handle the pandemic. They said if the trend continues, the system could become overwhelmed.
City leaders, along with the CEO of Saint Francis, Tulsa's largest hospital system, are sounding the alarm.
Jake Henry said in his 18 years in Oklahoma, there's always been a shortage of nurses. But he said it's worse now, especially in rural areas.
"We are headed in the wrong direction, the nurses, doctors, other caregivers and support personnel at our hospitals are tired, many are exhausted," Henry said.
Henry said Saint Francis cannot take many more COVID-19 patients, because they don't have enough staff to care for them. So, they are hiring contract registered nurses to help with the workload.
Henry said their nurses are burnt out. When they finish 12 hour shifts or longer, and go to places where people aren't wearing masks, they feel defeated.
Some nurses working across Tulsa said on Facebook; "We will survive this, and I plan on weathering the storm. But many are burned out and leaving," and "We can't even staff our floor. I've been there five out of the last six nights and we've worked short every night."
"Please support our frontline workers and take this virus seriously again. Please wear a mask, even when it's inconvenient, even when you think you're safe, even when there's not a mandate," Dr. Roger Gallup MD with Saint Francis said.
The hospital took out a newspaper ad to display the trend lines and plead for everyone to do their part to turn it around.
"I just fear that we are entering a very dark winter," Henry said.
Tulsa's other hospitals also have COVID-19 patients. The city also has a designated surge hospital, which is OSU Medical Center.