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COVID-19 cases continue to escalate in Northeastern Oklahoma. Both INTEGRIS Grove Hospital and INTEGRIS Miami Hospital say they are seeing more inpatients now due to the virus than even at the height of the pandemic.

COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine

Situation Worsens in Northeastern Oklahoma

Photo of a patient getting a vaccinationCOVID-19 cases continue to escalate in Northeastern Oklahoma. Both INTEGRIS Grove Hospital and INTEGRIS Miami Hospital say they are seeing more inpatients now due to the virus than even at the height of the pandemic.
 
“People are not getting the message,” says Clark Osborn, M.D., a family medicine physician at INTEGRIS Miami. “COVID-19 is not a thing of the past. It is happening right now in the present.”
 
The vaccination rate in these areas is low, only about 23% in Ottawa County and 25% in Delaware County. The fewer people vaccinated against the virus means more people are unprotected, making it the perfect environment for the coronavirus to thrive. 
 
“Not only are people not getting vaccinated, but they are no longer wearing their masks,” says James Rutter, M.D., M.B.A, FACP, FAAP, an internist at INTEGRIS Grove. “The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that masks are not needed in most settings if a person is fully vaccinated. If they are not vaccinated, they most definitely should be wearing a mask while in public or when around other people.”
 
Rutter continues, “Unfortunately, many unvaccinated people are not doing that. This allows COVID-19 to continue to morph and spread.”
 
The Delta variant is being blamed for the recent surge in Northeastern Oklahoma. 
 
There have been breakthrough cases, meaning some vaccinated people have contracted the virus. But doctors insist vaccination is still our best weapon in this fight.
 
“We have noticed that the patients who are dying from this disease and those who become severely ill are unvaccinated,” says Rutter. “Our breakthrough patients, as they are called, tend to have less severe symptoms and illness. That’s why we firmly believe vaccination is a life-saver.”
 
Osborn agrees, “National data shows approximately 99 percent of the patients who are hospitalized or die from COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Across the U.S., only about 5-percent of people have contracted COVID after being vaccinated and they typically experience milder symptoms.”
 
Rutter adds, “I know it’s not popular, but wearing a mask is another tool in our arsenal. We strongly encourage people in areas experiencing an uptick in cases like ours, to get vaccinated and wear a mask – if you’re vaccinated or not. That’s the only way I see that we are going to reclaim control of the situation.” 
 
If no action is taken, what is happening in Northeastern Oklahoma will continue to spread and we could very easily be right back where we started, with high rates of illness and very few hospital beds. Health systems around the state are quietly preparing for that possibility. Let’s do what we need to do now, to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
 

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