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Increase in county COVID cases last week
Tahlequah Daily Press - 8/12/2022
Aug. 12—The Oklahoma State Department of Health has reported an increase of 122 COVID-19 cases in Cherokee County over the past week, and a local doctor says he has concerns for more cases this autumn and winter.
Dr. John Galdamez, Cherokee Elder Care executive medical director, internal medicine, said the sub variant of omicron variant is more contagious than earlier versions of the virus.
"It's considerably more contagious but it doesn't seem to cause as severe disease. It's not as virulent. It's still dangerous and certainly kills more people than influenza for example," Galdamez said.
Those infected may experience a fever, sore throat, head congestion, cough, body aches, and fatigue.
"As far as the United States is concerned, we have about 70 percent of the population that has been vaccinated and has some degree of vaccination immunity and we've had about 90 percent of the population that has actually contracted COVID," Galdamez said.
Thursday's provisional death count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Health Statistics was 16,372. The seven-day rolling average for new cases was 1,338.
Oklahoma has listed 1,140,485 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 19,703 active cases.
On Aug. 11, Cherokee County was listed by the OSDH as having 15,742 positive cases since the pandemic started. The total number of deaths still stands at 155.
"At the peak of the pandemic about a year and a half ago, we had a little over 2,006 patients in Oklahoma hospitals that were testing positive for COVID," Galdamez said. "At our best and about six months ago, we got down to 13 patients in Oklahoma that had tested positive on any given day."
As of Thursday, Aug. 11, there were 382 patients in Oklahoma hospitals who tested positive for COVID.
"That doesn't mean they're sick with COVID, it just means they tested positive for COVID. Some are sick with COVID, they have COVID-pneumonia or they're on a ventilator. Some came in because they had a heart attack or a stroke or something else and they got tested and there they are, positive for COVID," he said.
As of Aug. 11, the CDC reported the level of community transmission for Cherokee County is at the highest level, or the "red zone." This means social distancing and masks are recommended in crowded venues, especially indoors.
Galdamez said this strain of the virus is manageable and hospitals across the state aren't overwhelmed.
"We're also doing pretty well because it's summer time and people are outside more and you're less apt to contract this thing outside than you are inside. Now when the fall comes and the winter comes and people move back indoors, I anticipate the numbers are going to rise because this omicron is very contagious," he said.
The best defense against the virus is vaccinations according to Galdamez and he said it wouldn't prevent someone from contracting COVID, but it would help make the disease "mild."
"Most people who have been immunized or have some form of antibodies that get this omicron variant, end up with a head cold, maybe a bit of a fever and some body aching. They typically have symptoms for two, three, or four days and then it resolves. It's been fairly mild," Galdamez said.
The total number of doses administered in Oklahoma as of Aug. 11 was 6,147,940, according to the OSDH weekly summary, and at least 2,307,736 of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated.
Galdamez said he anticipates there will be another booster shot available this fall, one that is omicron-specific.
Residents can register at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov to get a notification when they are eligible to get a vaccine. For information, visit https://oklahoma.gov/covid19.htm.
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