OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and state health officials on Tuesday announced a new plan to handle a surge in the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus.
The plan, announced as the number of hospitalizations in the state reached a record one-day high of 821, includes transferring virus patients from a hospital in a region of the state where hospitalizations are high to a a region that has more bed capacity available.
“This is based upon region, so when the capacity no longer exits within the region the patient will be transferred to the next region that can provide appropriate care,” said Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis.
The three-tiered surge plan is based upon coronavirus hospitalizations in each of the state’s eight regions of 15%, 15-19% and 20%, Davis said.
The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus or under investigation for infection was 28 more than the previous high of 793 reported Friday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force last week said Oklahoma remains in the red zone for newly reported coronavirus cases and recommended residents wear masks among the ways to slow the virus’ spread.
Gov. Kevin Stitt has repeatedly said he will not implement a statewide mask mandate, saying a he doesn’t believe a such a mandate is enforceable in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.
“”Every county is different, we’re leaving that up to the municipalities,” Stitt said.
Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman, the state’s three largest cities, have implemented mask mandates.
The health department reported an additional 1,475 virus cases and 18 more deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. There have been 109,548 cases and 1,191 deaths since the pandemic began. The true number of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The department reports 14,659 active cases and that 93,698 people have recovered.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.