Stitt: Up to 6,800 hospital beds needed for virus patients

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma will need up to 6,800 hospital beds to treat coronavirus patients at the peak of the pandemic, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Wednesday.

But Stitt acknowledged that scientists and health officers remain unsure when the peak would arrive.

“Projecting the spread of COVID is not an exact science, we have some models and predictive analysts that are showing spikes in early April ... we’ve seen late August and kind of everything in between. As we get more testing, as we get more data, that cone of uncertainty will start to narrow,” he said.

The governor’s office has said there are little more than 1,700 beds potentially available for virus patients. That’s not going to be enough.

“The modeling at this point shows between 4,000 beds needed to 6,800 beds needed,” Stitt said.

More testing is required to better predict the total impact of the virus, Stitt said, adding that the state has 13,600 test kits available.

“Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have come in contact with someone with COVID needs to be tested this week,” Stitt said, calling on testing facilities to test anyone with symptoms of a fever above 100.4, coughing and shortness of breath.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Oklahoma has at least 719 cases and 30 deaths due to COVID-19, up from 565 cases and 23 deaths reported Tuesday. There is at least one confirmed case in 48 of the state’s 77 counties.

Stitt also extended his “Safer At Home” order until April 30 and included all counties, rather than just those with a confirmed case. The order requires non-essential businesses to shut down and the elderly and medically vulnerable to stay indoors.

Stitt stopped short of issuing a Shelter in Place directive.

“A lot of this is about personal responsibility ... even when people get out to the grocery stores and they have to go to the pharmacy, we know we have be out of our house, it’s not practical to bunker in the whole society through the end of April,” Stitt said.

It’s up to residents to observe social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, he said.

“As governor I can’t wave a magic wand and make this thing disappear,” Stitt said.

As the virus spreads, some Oklahoma companies, including a Mathis Brothers mattress factory in Oklahoma City and Mod Scenes, a stage designer for churches, concerts and special events, have begun sewing masks and building face masks for use in hospitals or by others in the medical field as additional protection from the virus.


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