Oklahoma hits 1,000 daily coronavirus hospitalizations, hospitals enter new surge plan, state officials continue advocating personal responsibility

  • Catherine Sweeney

For the past several days, Oklahoma’s coronavirus hospitalizations have surpassed 1,000, and its statewide ICU capacity has dropped below 10 percent. StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney has the latest on what officials are doing to address the worsening COVID-19 situation.

Statewide officials and the Oklahoma Hospital Association partnered to develop a new hospital surge plan. There have been a few iterations so far. The latest developed a more collaborative framework for providers. It has also created tiers to assess the severity of coronavirus hospitalizations in regions across the state. The four tiers are based on the percentage of the region’s staffed beds being filled by COVID-19 patients, with the first indicating the lowest percentage range.

Oklahoma City is its own region, and became the first to enter the third tier, officials confirmed on Thursday. For three days, coronavirus patients filled at least 20 percent of the region’s beds included in the count. These exclude capacity for, say, beds in a maternity ward or other specialized beds that have nothing to do with coronavirus. This tier’s action plan includes an option to curtail non-emergency surgeries by 50 percent statewide.

Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis said that in addition to that plan, hospitals have already been implementing their own individual surge plans.

“And it doesn’t look the same way in every region,” she said “And it doesn’t look the same way in Oklahoma City. One hospital may be changing surgery schedules. They may be ratcheting them down. They may be redeploying staff. It’s a whole host of things that they have to use to create more capacity.”

In response to the growing numbers, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Lance Frye released a statement re-iterating the administration’s personal responsibility approach, and urging Oklahomans to wear masks, social distance and wash their hands.