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Reasons for COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma, fewer hospitals | News

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According to experts, many factors have contributed to the reduction in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations recorded in Oklahoma and other countries in recent weeks.

Oklahoma’s 7-day moving average fell to 736 on February 24, the lowest in the last few months. The state also reported only 491 hospitalizations on Tuesday night. This is the lowest number Oklahoma has reported since early September 2020.

The low case average comes after the month when Oklahoma hit a record high for seven days and a record high of 4,256 on January 13. The state peaked with nearly 2,000 hospitalizations at a time in January.

“On January 12, Oklahoma was ranked third in the country in terms of cases per 100,000 population,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, COVID-19 Chief Officer at the University of Oklahoma. “There are 103 new cases per day per 100,000 population, lagging behind Arizona and California. [Thursday] In the morning, Oklahoma is ranked 19th in the country, with 19 new cases per day per 100,000 population. [Also] Looking at the 7-day moving average, it has decreased by 83% since mid-January. “

Bratzler and other state experts explained several reasons for Oklahoma’s significant decline in cases and hospitalizations since January.

Christmas surge

According to Bratzler, medical professionals expected the number of cases to increase significantly in the two weeks after Christmas and New Year due to the increased number of crowded people.

“It was a huge surge, with more than 4,000 cases a day,” Bratzler said. “But all models showed a decrease in cases after overcoming that surge. Therefore, we did not expect an 83% decrease, but some of the decrease was expected. . “

The decline since January exceeded expectations set by the model of epidemiologist Aaron Wendelbow, an associate professor at the Hudson University of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma.

By the end of March, Oklahoma expected 25 new cases per 100,000 people a day, but as of Wednesday, the state had already 20 new cases per 100,000 people a day, Wendelboye said. Said that it has become.

Wendelbow said the impact of February’s sub-zero weather on numbers and spread is still unclear.

vaccine

Only 10-15% of Oklahoman are vaccinated, and Bratzler said he does not think the vaccine will make up the majority of the decline, but enough people have been vaccinated, so the new vaccine He said it was influential. Daily number of cases.

“Looking at some parts of the state, about half of people over the age of 65 are vaccinated,” he said. “And it has a big impact on hospitalization and death, because they are the people most likely to have complications. [caused by] COVID-19 (new coronavirus infection) (# If there is no character limit, add parentheses when it first appears. “

Mitigation strategies and local counties

Bratzler said during the January surge, he began to notice that the local counties in Oklahoma were hit hardest by the virus. That experience meant that people actually started connecting with other people who had complications from the coronavirus.

“I think some people have begun to take COVID a little more seriously when they see their families, locals, neighbors, etc. hospitalized or die of illness,” he said.

COVID mitigation measures, such as masking, still have a significant impact on the spread of the virus, according to Wendelboye.

Wendelboye, who modeled various pandemic scenarios, said that if Oklahoma returned to pre-pandemic behavior, it would see a surge equivalent to more than 4,000 cases that Oklahoma saw daily at some point in January. It was. Even if Oklahoma eased mitigation efforts such as wearing masks, the state could see spikes in Oklahoma reporting 2,500 cases per day, he said.

“The important point is that the mitigation efforts we are making are still important for us to continue to observe this downtrend,” said Wendelboye.

Wendelbow said he believes there will be some more “bumps” in the state as people relax their guards over the next few months. He said masking and vaccination would be an important factor in creating a continuous declining trend in the number of Oklahoma.

Viral biology

According to Bratzler, many viruses, such as the American coronavirus, are very seasonal as they peak in winter and then decline. Oklahoma didn’t see that trend completely — the virus really peaked in summer, autumn, and winter — medical professionals are still completely unaware of the biological composition of this new virus.

“”[Since] It is not yet known what will happen to the natural biology of this particular virus. It is one of the seasonal viruses that tends to disappear in spring and summer and return in the next winter. Year — Fully speculative at this point. I don’t know. “

Herd immunity

Bratzler said the Oklahoman community, which spread the virus most rapidly, may have already developed “some herd immunity.”

“the reason [most epidemiologists] Believe it’s time to look at the study [they] To say the least, for all people who are infected with COVID-19 and test positive, 4-5 people in the community are not sick enough to seek medical care or have never been tested. There may be people, “he said. ..

More simply, Bratzler said there were far more infections out there than could be seen from the Oklahoma positive test report.

“Given Oklahoma, so far the infection is just over 420,000,” he said. “That means that 40-50% of Oklahomans are already infected with COVID-19, given that the number of people actually infected is 4-5 times higher.

“And there is good evidence from previous studies that innate immunity develops when infected with COVID-19 and probably lasts for at least 6 months.”

Bratzler said he doesn’t think 40-50% of Oklahoma is infected with the virus. Instead, he believes that a particular community or group (ie, college students or more active people) has seen a huge number of cases, perhaps more than what was actually reported from the test.

Wendelboe said Wednesday that more than 1.8 million Oklahoma people had some form of immunity to the virus between vaccination and infection.

There is also a factor that Wendelbow calls “conditional herd immunity.” This happens when there are sufficient factors to mitigate the spread of COVID and the spread of COVID continues to decline. Wendelbo said Oklahoma is seeing conditional herd immunity due to the proportion of Oklahoma vaccinated in its population and the continued use of mitigation measures such as mandatory masks.

According to Wendelboye, it is beneficial that a large number of Oklahoma entities, not just the health sector, provide vaccines. Oklahoma’s immunity is strengthened when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine becomes available. This is a single dose and will be approved by the FDA within a few days. Pfizer’s vaccines can now be stored in standard freezer temperatures rather than ultra-low temperatures, which also helps to provide vaccines at more sites, Wendelbow said.

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