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Oklahomans encouraged to stay masked up as pandemic continues

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Posted at 10:55 PM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 00:10:43-04

TULSA, Okla. — While coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are trending downward, health officials are urging Oklahomans not to relax just yet.

“Listen, everyone, the pandemic is not over yet," said Aaron Wendelboe, PhD, epidemiologist and professor at the OU College of Public Health. "We have not dropped to levels of transmission that are sustainable, that we can control and we have not reached that herd immunity threshold, so at this moment I plead, go get vaccinated.”

Deputy State Epidemiologist Joli Stone said five COVID variants of concern have been found in Oklahoma. Stone said the public health lab in Stillwater, Okla. can now help sequence those variants.

“Sequencing is definitely going to be a priority, especially now that we have the capacity up and running and we are certainly keeping an eye on the variant distribution," she said.

There is good news for Oklahoma. Stone said the Sooner State is one of the top states in the nation for fully immunized people. But even if you are fully vaccinated, you’re encouraged to keep that mask on.

"It's important to continue to wear your mask when you're out and about with other individuals because in the chance that you may have been infected and you might have some viral shedding going on, you can protect those other individuals at that point and time," Stone said.

Stone also explained the state’s recent decision to switch from reporting certain data daily to weekly.

“Weekly reporting provides a more complete picture of what the virus is doing and allows us the opportunity to analyze trends that we’re seeing," she said. "So, it puts us in a better position overall to help detect new surges more quickly or identify on various populations.”

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