Yukon COVID Task Force encourages mask wearing, hand washing

Lack of hospital bed space, nurse shortage cited

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Although Canadian County has a relatively low COVID-19 fatality rate, Yukon residents are still being encouraged to wear facemasks and wash hands to reduce the virus spread.

Members of the Yukon COVID Task Force met Nov. 4, when Canadian County Health Department community liaison Maggie Jackson reported 656 active COVID cases countywide with 323 in Yukon. There have been 24 COVID deaths in Canadian County with nine in Yukon.

The CCHD official explained Canadian County has one of the “lower-case fatality rates,” but added this “doesn’t refute the need” to wear masks and wash hands.

Jackson referred to a study conducted Aug. 1 through Oct. 31 that found communities with mask mandates had a lower infection rate by 21%.

The City of Yukon does not mandate people to wear masks, although restaurant and bar workers and anyone who enters a city-owned building is required to don face coverings.

Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby

At the recent COVID Task Force meeting, Mayor Shelli Selby talked about Kindness Week being observed in Yukon.

“The kindest thing you can do is wear a mask,” Selby said.

Meanwhile, the county health department is planning for when the COVID-19 vaccine is ready. Jackson reported the greatest hurdle will be transporting the vaccine and storing it in cool temperatures.

Health care workers and first responders will be the first to receive the vaccine.

LIMITED HOSPITAL BEDS, STAFF

An increased number of hospitalized patients is limiting hospital beds and staff across Oklahoma, a Yukon hospital official told the COVID Task Force.

In her report at the Nov. 4th meeting, Integris Canadian Valley Hospital CEO Teresa Gray said the hospital had 12-14 COVID patients the previous week.

Gray reported that three patients had died from the virus and three others were on ventilators in the Yukon hospital’s intensive care unit (on one recent day, 147 COVID patients were in ICUs statewide).

Meanwhile, three ICVH staff members were out after contracting COVID.

Integris Canadian Valley Hospital CEO Teresa Gray

Gray told the task force “we are out of beds and transferring patients” to other Integris hospitals – and haven’t even hit peak flu or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) season.

She referred to a COVID predictive model that indicates the virus will continue peaking through Dec. 4.

Oklahoma faces a nurse shortage.

Anyone who is certified as a nurse – including hospital administrators and department heads – wears scrubs everyday so they can be “pulled to the floor” if needed,” Gray noted.

Also noteworthy from the Nov. 4th Yukon COVID Task Force meeting:

* With Canadian County now in the “red” on the state COVID chart, the weekly Friday morning Yukon Community Coffee has been moved to the Zoom videoconferencing app.

* The Yukon Fire Department is seeing many more COVID-related calls than before, and one firefighter is out after testing positive.

* Spanish Cove Retirement Village CEO Don Blose is encouraging residents to think about their “bubble” as they make Thanksgiving plans. Two staff members are out after recently testing positive.

* The Nov. 11th Yukon Chamber of Commerce luncheon featuring Yukon Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth’s “State of the School” address will be virtual. Meanwhile, Yukon Chamber CEO Pam Shelton reported that the “Yuletide Express” holiday retail promotion has been rescheduled as “Loving Local” for Valentine’s Day.