Health workers care for COVID patients in a Chicago hospital (Photo: Ashlee Rezin Garcia, AP)
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Hospitalizations for COVID-19 hit record highs in Oklahoma on Friday, with more than 2,200 people hospitalized across the state. The news comes as a report from WalletHub ranks Oklahoma as “the most unsafe state to live during the pandemic”.

The rankings were determined by measuring five metrics: rates of COVID-19 transmission, positive testing, hospitalizations and death and vaccination rates. WalletHub’s report ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Oklahoma ranked 51st with a score of 16.03 out of 100.

For many, especially healthcare workers, that score feels accurate.

‘We’ve never seen death like this’: Oklahoma doctors struggle as pandemic rages on

Of the over 2200 people hospitalized for COVID-19 related illness across the state, more than 500 are in Tulsa County hospitals.

Dr. Kamran Abbasi, a physician at St. Francis hospital in Tulsa, became emotional as he spoke about the conditions he’s seeing.

“We’ve never seen death like this,” Abbasi said, holding back tears. “You want to do something, and then they die and they die and they die. That takes a toll on you.”

Hospital officials urge action as elected leaders remain silents

Abbasi and others are urging Oklahomans to get their COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots immediately. Nearly 80% of those currently hospitalized in the state are not fully vaccinated.

According to data released Friday morning, an additional 81 Oklahomans lost their lives to COVID-19 yesterday. It was the eleventh highest increase in deaths in the nation, according to data from the New York Times. That brings the state’s death count to more than 13,200 people, according to the CDC.

As healthcare workers fight a tidal wave of new cases, Oklahoma’s Governor has remained silent on their struggle. It has been months since Governor Stitt has chosen to use his platform to encourage vaccinations.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma continues to hold one of the top-ten highest per-capita death rates in the country. The state’s total number of cases is likely to eclipse 1 million in the coming days.

Nate Morris moved to the Tulsa area in 2012 and has committed himself to helping build a more equitable and just future for everyone who calls the city home. As a teacher, advocate, community organizer...