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COVID is on the rise in Oklahoma. Should we be concerned?

COVID-19 at-home rapid test kits are seen in Los Angeles on Jan. 7.
Mario Tama
Getty Images
COVID-19 at-home rapid test kits are seen in Los Angeles on Jan. 7.

Now that lab testing for COVID is significantly rarer, it’s hard to know how many Oklahomans have the virus. But if it seems a lot of your friends, family members and coworkers have it right now, you’re not alone.

OU Health’s chief COVID officer Dr. Dale Braztler said now that at-home testing — which aren’t reported to the state — is the norm, data is hard to come by.

That being said, reported cases have doubled over the past few weeks, and several states are reporting spikes.

That is likely because the omicron strain has a new subvariant. Bratzler said this mutation seems to find its way around recent immunity.

"Even if you were one of those people in December or January that got infected during that huge Omicron surge, that probably doesn't protect you against this particular variant," said Bratzler.

He said the good news is that among those who have been vaccinated, symptoms are rarely severe enough to warrant hospitalization. The bad news is, in earlier strains, somewhere between 1 in 5 and 1 in 3 infected developed long-COVID symptoms.

Wasted vaccines

A new report shows more COVID-19 vaccines went to waste in Oklahoma than in any other state.

Oklahoma tossed out more than a quarter of the vaccines it received. That's according to a report from NBC News that analyzed vaccine waste data from the last year and a half.

The report said 28% of the nearly 4 million doses Oklahoma received went to waste. Alaska discarded the second-highest amount. Nationwide, more than 82 million vaccines were thrown out — CVS and Walmart responsible for more than a quarter of that number.

The millions of wasted doses include some that expired or were left out of refrigeration too long. Others were tossed at the end of the day once the vial had been opened.

KGOU is a community-supported news organization and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.

Catherine Sweeney grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and attended Oklahoma State University. She has covered local, state and federal government for outlets in Oklahoma, Colorado and Washington, D.C.
Nyk has worked in radio since 2011 serving as a board operator, on-air announcer and production director for commercial radio stations in Iowa. Originally from the Quad Cities area, Nyk joined KGOU in 2018 as a practicum student studying Creative Media Production at OU. Upon graduating the following year, he became part of KGOU’s staff and is now the local Morning Edition host. When not on the air, Nyk likes to read, listen to music and follow news about the radio industry.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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