A group of Oklahoma healthcare experts says the state of the pandemic is extremely serious.
Tuesday afternoon the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition begged Oklahomans to take the virus seriously this Thanksgiving.
The coalition says the biggest problem is the number of COVID-19 patients coming every day to Oklahoma hospitals. They say the system is overwhelmed, but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
Dr. Aaron Wendelboe is an epidemiologist who looked at the increasing case numbers.
"Our numbers have been on a steep trajectory over the past few months," he said.
"People may not know that nationally COVID-19 has become the third leading cause of death in the United States. That's right behind heart disease and cancer. So that means COVID-19 is killing more people than accidents, chronic respiratory conditions, and stroke."
The Healthier Oklahoma Coalition says we can cut down that sharp spike if we make a real effort this Thanksgiving.
If Oklahomans don't start taking the virus more seriously, Dr. Schott Michener says it could overwhelm already overburdened hospitals.
"Like all hospitals, we are struggling. We have no beds, our ICU's are at 120-percent capacity," he said.
"We're going to have the Thanksgiving holiday and then we're going to have a surge ... I can really see the real possibility of not being able to provide the care that's necessary."
Wearing masks and avoiding social gatherings are the best things people can do to ease the healthcare system's heavy burden and if all goes well it's only a temporary sacrifice.
Dr. Dwight Sublett says COVID-19 vaccines could be ready within a few months.
"The concern has been raised about, 'Well did they cut corners doing these trials, were they rushing it through too fast?' The answer is absolutely not." he said.
"The second bit of good news, even better, is the vaccines seem to be at a level of effectiveness that we weren't even anticipating."
Until then, it's best to keep a mask on during family gatherings, wash hands frequently, keep up six feet of social distance, and avoid large groups of people this Thanksgiving.
"We can bend the curve until the vaccine is available. We have done this before," said Dr. Wendelboe.