Oklahoma COVID-19 hospitalizations begin creeping back up

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Oklahoma began creeping back up on Tuesday, although not to the record levels reached last week.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 907 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The number of hospitalizations reached a record high of 956 on Friday. It dipped slightly over the weekend, but the virus is putting a strain on the state's health care system.

“Oklahoma has long experienced a nursing shortage, and this virus is stretching our nurses to the limit," said Jane Nelson, CEO of the Oklahoma Nurses Association. “Nurses are exhausted, both physically and emotionally, working to care for both COVID and non-COVID patients."

The Nurses Association, Oklahoma State Medical Association, Oklahoma Dental Association and several other medical groups sent a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt last week requesting a statewide mask mandate, Nelson said. Stitt has consistently resisted such calls, citing concerns about how such a mandate would be enforced.

Meanwhile, the health department reported 1,010 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 22 new deaths from the disease. That raised the state's totals since the pandemic began to 118,409 confirmed cases and 1,273 deaths.

The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Oklahoma has risen over the past two weeks, from seven per day for the period ending Oct. 12 to slightly more than 11 per day for the seven days ending Oct. 26, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Oklahoma's average positivity rate and daily new cases also has risen over the last two weeks.