The Healthier Oklahoma Coalition, which is a group of doctors from around the state that discuss COVID-19, is outlining what the future of the virus could look like and what steps need to be taken as Oklahomans move forward.
Doctors say positive cases are still happening. This summer, subvariants of the omicron strain of the virus have led to many new COVID-19 infections.
The omicron variant spread at the start of the year, and doctors say it was the most contagious. Data has dropped, though health officials say that’s because many people have begun testing at home.
The current subvariant is still a big risk for hospitalizations for people 70 and above. Doctors encourage everyone to get a vaccine.
Looking forward, Dr. Stan Schwartz, CEO of WellOK, talked about actions to prevent another pandemic. These are recommendations on behalf of the American Medical Association.
The list includes loading up on stockpiles of supplies, boosting funding for public health, focusing on the mental health of doctors and nurses to prevent burnout, and investing in telehealth to connect doctors and patients.
“This was truly a lifeline during the pandemic, the only way that many people could access their doctors,” said Dr. Schwartz. “The private sectors adopted telehealth to a very large extent, now it needs to be a part of Medicare as well.”
As for what’s next with COVID-19, doctors say a new bivalent vaccine is coming, which would help protect against the original strains and the new omicron variants.