Flu numbers low, but COVID hospitalizations continue to climb in Oklahoma

As of its latest report, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reports only 17 hospitalizations and 0 deaths from the flu since Sept. 1, 2020

TULSA — Oklahoma has so far seen little influenza activity early in the flu season, and health officials stress the importance of keeping those numbers low.

In its most recent report on flu cases in the state, OSDH reported 17 hospitalizations and no deaths since September 1st of this year.

But COVID cases continue to mount, and hospitals have begun showing the strain, according to OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler.

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“The big news this past week is the dramatic rise in the number of people in the hospital,” Bratzler said Friday. “As of yesterday, there were 956 people in the hospital, 873 of those with confirmed COVID-19, and 300 of those patients in the intensive care unit.”

The state issued a new hospital surge plan earlier in the week, and Friday the Oklahoma City region was moved to Tier Two, indicating that between 15-19% of patients hospitalized there have COVID.

Facilities in that region will need to transfer less serious patients to rehab and other areas, to create more space.

They can also bring in additional staff, and potentially restrict elective procedures.

The urgency of keeping hospitals from becoming overwhelmed underlines the urgency of preventing an influx of flu cases, says Dr. Sandra Morris with Med Express.

“We really, really need to prevent as much influenza as we can this season,” she told KRMG Friday. “The hospitals are already struggling to deal with the volume of COVID patients, and if we add influenza patients on top of that we will really strain the system.”

The same measures one takes to prevent the spread of COVID also work to prevent influenza - specifically, hygiene, social distancing, and masks.

However, unlike COVID, there are vaccines to prevent the flu, so all Oklahomans are urged to get flu shots if possible.

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