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Health Officials Warn Delta Coronavirus Variant Poses Several Risks To Oklahomans

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The highly contagious delta coronavirus variant poses several risks to Oklahomans, and doctors are seeing some differences between it and old strains of the virus.

The variant spreads more easily, taking only seconds of exposure. It can also fly under the radar at first, since initial symptoms look different from what we’re used to.

Dr. Sam Ratermann is the president of the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians and works at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital in northeast Oklahoma, which has become a recent hot spot.

"I think the symptoms of the delta variant have changed a little bit," said Ratermann. I don't know if we're seeing as much of the loss, a sense of taste and smell. Certainly, it doesn't seem to be as quick with the patients that I've been taking care of. So those patients have had more of the headache and sore throat."

The variant has created a new wave of infections in Missouri, which is now experiencing the kind of hospital and ICU bed shortages Oklahoma did over the winter.

Ratermann and other medical experts in the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition are recommending vaccines and continued use of the three W’s — wash your hands, wear a mask and watch your distance.

Catherine Sweeney was StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter from 2020 to 2023.
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