TULSA, OK – [July 21, 2021] – The Tulsa Health Department encourages Tulsa County residents to follow public health guidelines for preventing COVID-19, particularly as the Delta variant drives community spread of the virus.
“The COVID-19 vaccines remain the best prevention tool against the virus that has killed more than 1,148 Tulsa County residents, and I encourage everyone 12 years and older to receive the vaccine if you haven’t done so already,” said THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart. “I urge everyone who is not fully immunized, to wear a mask indoors when in close contact with other people. Those who are at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 due to pre-existing conditions should follow this same guidance, regardless of vaccination status, due to the higher level of transmissibility of the Delta variant.”
One week ago, on July 14, the recent 3-day average for hospitalizations in Tulsa County was 107, with 45 patients in intensive care units. The latest available data indicates those numbers have increased to 175 hospitalizations, with 70 patients in the ICU. On July 14, 613 new weekly cases were reported among Tulsa County residents, a 69.8% increase from the week prior. Today, 1,120 new weekly cases were reported, another 82.7% increase over the previous week. This is nearly identical to the same week last year, when 1,118 new cases were reported the week ending on July 21, 2020.
Unvaccinated individuals appear to be driving the spread, as the vaccines remain highly effective at reducing infection and serious illness. The latest available data indicates that among newly identified cases since July 4th, 36.4% of new cases were among individuals age 18-35. The latest available immunization data indicates that among Tulsa County residents under the age of 35, only 17.4% are fully vaccinated. That includes residents who are under the age of 12 and therefor ineligible for vaccination.
“Regardless of vaccination status, I urge people to continue taking steps to protect themselves from exposure and infection from COVID-19. A layered approach of vaccines, masks, social distancing and handwashing are the most protective steps people can take to ensure they stay healthy until the risk of exposure to the Delta variant and COVID-19 wanes in Tulsa County,” said Dr. Dart.
The risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection will continue until more people are vaccinated. Those who are immunocompromised or too young to be vaccinated continue to be at risk for serious infection. It is important for unvaccinated individuals to help slow the spread of the virus by wearing a mask indoors, particularly in crowded settings with others who are not fully vaccinated. For masks to work properly, they need to completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face and around your nose. Your mask should be made with two or more layers of tightly woven, breathable material.
To date, 49.7% of all Tulsa County residents have received at least one dose. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free to receive. Appointments can made online at vaccinate918.com.
“We understand people may still be on the fence or have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, and our staff are happy to take the time to speak to anyone who would like more information about the vaccine,” said THD nurse and Clinical Services Manager Ellen Niemitalo. “It’s important to empower residents to make an informed decision regarding vaccinations. Talk to a public health nurse, talk to your pharmacist, talk to your medical provider. It’s not too late to enjoy the benefits from vaccinations.”
Residents experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should get tested, even if they’ve already been vaccinated. Testing will help public health professionals detect and track emerging variants. THD has partnered with two local providers to offer free COVID-19 testing. For more information, please visit our COVID-19 page.
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