A small school district in northeastern Oklahoma said on Tuesday it was closing due to positive COVID-19 test results among students and staff, just as large state hospitals warned they were overwhelmed by a spike in infections caused by a highly contagious variant. deltas.
Dr. Stan Schwartz, an infectious disease specialist with the Oklahoma Health Coalition, said a mandate for the mask was clearly needed.
“Until the virus can find anyone to infect (through vaccination), we will not get rid of it,” Schwartz said. “We really would like masks to be mandatory in as many situations as possible because partial measures will not be as effective as full measures.”
Chelsea Public School, a neighborhood of approximately 750 students located about 40 miles northeast of Tulsa, has announced its closure on social media.
“Due to a significant number of students and staff who are positive about COVID-19, Chelsea Public School will be closed until Friday. The buildings are deeply cleaned, ”the county’s Facebook page says.
Telephone calls to the area went unanswered.
State Department of Education spokeswoman Carrie Burkhart said she could not immediately confirm that the area was closed, although areas should report any closures.
Due to the delta surge, the percentage of hospitalized infected people has increased, according to Dr. Dale Bratzler of OU Health.
Bratzler said an average of about 4,200 people were treated for the virus daily at a peak in mid-January, up from the current average reported by the state health department on Tuesday of 2,187, or 53% of the peak.
There are 1,360 coronavirus patients currently hospitalized, Bratzler said, which is 70% of the high in early January (1994).
“The key message here is that most of the people now diagnosed with COVID-19 end up in the hospital,” Bratzler said.
“The Delta variant is also rapidly evolving,” said Dr. Bahar Malakuti of Mercy Hospital.
“Patients wake up coughing on Monday, and by Friday we have to tell their families that there is nothing else we can do to save their lives,” Malakuti said.
Patients with the virus represent a huge number of hospitals, she said, forcing them to transfer patients, including victims of accidents or those suffering from heart attacks and strokes.
“Since July 17 … the number of requests for daily transfers has doubled from 30 to 60,” Malakuti said. “Mercy was able to accept an average of 36% of these patients” compared to 90% previously.
Of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 last month, 93% are unvaccinated, with some asking for vaccination while hospitalized, but too late for the vaccine to stop the infection, according to Dr. Julie Watson, chief physician at Integris Health.
Oklahoma City and Santa Fe South school districts in Oklahoma City have adopted a disguise policy that includes the option of waiver, despite a state law passed earlier this year banning school masks.
The bill was signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, who refused to issue an emergency order allowing schools to comply with disguise requirements.
Stitt, who tested positive for the virus in July 2020 and received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March, thanked the two school districts for allowing students to drop out of school.
Also on Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling requiring the state to restore additional federal unemployment benefits. The court said it plans to combine the two cases challenging Oklahoma’s decision to end the fringe benefits and make a final decision later.