Oklahoma City hospitals reach Tier 3 of surge plan, doctors concerned about spread during holidays

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Doctors say this week’s COVID-19 positivity rate is the highest since the start of the pandemic.

“Twelve-point-six percent of all of the tests that have been done have been positive,” Dr. Dale Bratzler with OU Health said.

Bratzler says more cases could be due to the fact that some testing sites closed during the ice storm. Regardless, metro hospitals are filling up. They’ve hit Tier 3 of the state’s surge plan, which means they can limit surgeries to make room for COVID patients.

“The idea is we look at patients who are absolutely going to need critical care, or have a prolonged length of stay and for whom putting off of a surgery is in no way going to impact their outcome if we prolong it for six to eight weeks,” Dr. Cameron Mantor with OU Health said. “There are other groups, though we call it elective, need operative procedures done to try to prevent problems later that are outpatients and can be done and go home and not impact our hospital care.”

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation originally projected just about 1,450 deaths in Oklahoma by Thanksgiving. Bratzler says the state is expected to hit that next week. 

Now, the Institute projects the death toll to near 1,800 by Thanksgiving.

“I think all of us in health care, in public health, are concerned about the upcoming holiday season,” Bratzler said.

Doctors stress that people need to do their part.

“I would just implore you, we have to be a big part of the solution. Hospitals aren’t fixing this pandemic. The community is who has to fix it,” Mantor said.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt is urging people to focus on stopping the spread of the virus.

“With the ice storm and election now behind us, we’ve got to refocus this community on the pandemic,” he said.

He also reminds everyone to take basic precautions like wearing a mask, washing their hands and practicing social distancing.

“This isn’t rocket science, it’s medical science, it has some pretty easy remedies,” Holt said.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office released the following statement: 

“Governor Stitt is not planning to issue an executive order to limit elective surgeries at this time because the hospitals have told us that step is not currently needed. We are seeing great partnership between the lead physicians and the executives of hospitals in the Oklahoma City metro and will continue to work with them on what they need.

The governor wants to stress that all Oklahomans need to do their part to protect their family members and neighbors – especially those who are the most vulnerable. Following the three Ws of washing your hands frequently, watching your distance and wearing a mask around others is the easiest way to slow the spread of this virus, protect our most vulnerable and preserve capacity in our hospitals.”


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