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Grim Milestone: Oklahoma Reaches 10,000 Deaths From COVID-19

mustangvaccinationclinic.jpg
Mairead Todd / KOSU
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A vaccination clinic in Mustang, Okla. in February 2021

Oklahoma surpassed a devastating milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday: 10,000 Oklahomans have now died from the disease.

The 42 additional deaths confirmed by Oklahoma's State Department of Health pushed the state's Provisional Death Count — which reflects COVID-19 deaths based on death certificates — to 10,025.

2,361 new infections of the coronavirus were also added, for a total of 603,161 since March 2020. Oklahoma is reporting an average of 1,887 infections per day in the past week.

Whether or not you've been vaccinated, health officials encourage anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested.

Researchers advising the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention say a national winter surge of COVID-19 is unlikely. But, an Oklahoma epidemiologist says an uptick this winter season could still be possible.   

OU Health Epidemiologist Dr. Aaron Wendleboe said during Tuesday's Healthier Oklahoma Update that he estimates Oklahoma's population immunity is now at 78 percent. While the news is encouraging, it’s not time to let up on mitigation efforts.

"It doesn’t look like population immunity is really going to last much longer than a year,' said Wendleboe. "I estimate that population immunity could start decreasing by Thanksgiving, if not before."

Wendleboe projects an uptick in cases late in the winter season after natural immunity begins to wane. He urges Oklahomans to get vaccinated, saying the vaccines are safe, and they work.

Just 46.7 percent of Oklahoma's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, placing Oklahoma in the bottom 12 states for vaccine rollout.

In a snapshot of the last 30 days, the most recent state epidemiology report shows that 89.7 percent of hospitalizations for COVID in Oklahoma were unvaccinated individuals. That's compared with 7.5 percent of those fully vaccinated and 2.9 percent of those partially vaccinated.

Vaccines are available through many doctors and pharmacies, or you can find a vaccine appointment at vaccines.gov.

Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
Nyk Daniels is KGOU’s Morning Edition host.
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