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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Delta Variant identified in Oklahoma

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 07:44:56-04

TULSA, Okla. — A cluster of Delta variant Coronavirus cases was reported in Northeast Oklahoma. Experts think the outbreak may be linked to the Delta variant, which is increasing in Southwest Missouri, including the Branson area.

Joline Anne Stone, an epidemiologist with the State Department of Oklahoma said the first Delta variant was reported at the end of April. She said 41 cases have been reported in the state as of June 22.

Right now all the variant testing is being done at the public health lab at OSU in Stillwater and it takes about a week to get those results.

While Tulsa County does not have any official cases of the Delta variant, health experts believe it's just a matter of time before it is confirmed, which is why they want everyone to get vaccinated.

Friday, Muscogee Nation partnered with the Tulsa Drillers to help with those vaccination efforts. They brought a mobile clinic on-site to offer vaccines between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Health experts say the Delta variant is highly contagious.

“We are seeing these additional variants pop-up, that is something that is expected with a virus-like COVID-19 and so specifically with the Delta variant they are saying that it is more transmissible so it’s going to be more contagious from person to person,” Madison Thomas, an epidemiologist with the Tulsa Health Department said.

Although there are no official cases in Tulsa County, the Tulsa Health Department is concerned are being exposed while traveling to neighboring states.

“We know that individuals in our area they do often travel to other areas in Missouri and some of our neighboring states up to Kansas where they’re also seeing some of the cases,” Thomas said.

She said the highly contagious variant means a potential spike in cases for Tulsa County.

“More transmissible, more cases so that’s definitely not what we’re wanting to see right now, especially when we’re doing a really good job of getting our numbers down in our area as well as in the United States,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the majority of cases they are seeing in area hospitals are among those not fully vaccinated or unvaccinated.

She said vaccination numbers are lower among the younger population, even though they are vulnerable.

“The one-shot does provide some protection, but it does not provide all so if you have only one dose you’re only a certain amount protected against it, if you haven’t gotten that second dose, I certainly encourage you to come and get it. Having both doses and being fully vaccinated is what will get you to that really high efficacy to protect you,” Thomas said.

Thomas said as of June 24, nearly 41 percent of Tulsa county residents have been fully vaccinated. While about 47 percent have received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

“The number one thing is we are encouraging everyone who is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it is still very effective against the variants that have been discovered so far and it’s really really effective against preventing severe disease so it will keep you out of the hospital,” Thomas said.

She encourages those who are not vaccinated to continue following the three w rule. Watch your distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.

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