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How Oklahoma might respond to the worst disaster it might ever face


Ben Fenwick April 30th, 2009

Editor's note: This Oklahoma Gazette article first published in January 2007. The imagined narrative is not real. This futuristic fiction is based on facts referenced throughou...

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Alternative care centers set up in gymnasiums, schools, even churches, were filled with sick. All available medical personnel were brought to the front lines. The long-dormant house call was again a valid mode of medical treatment.35 Those with any capacity to do so treated family members at home until hospital care became the only option. The state medical community rode the waves of the pandemic like sailors on a storm-tossed ship.

Eventually, the tide turned, but not before the state was beset with tens of thousands of dead. It took weeks, with the help of the mobile refrigerator morgue trucks, to inter the large numbers of victims.

By the end, the 2010 pandemic had killed more than 23,000 Oklahomans and hospitalized nearly 120,000. More than half a million suffered through outpatient care. Medical costs alone exceeded $2 billion. Nationwide, 90 million fell ill and nearly 2 million died. Medical costs rose to $166 billion.36

Officials are still sifting through the wreckage for data. Could it have been worse? Yes. In the pandemic of 1918, 90 years before, there had been no drugs, not even penicillin, to combat the secondary infections that had caused many of the deaths of that era. Similarly, pneumonia vaccinations, routinely administered often as an afterthought, saved possibly hundreds of thousands more. Oklahoma, with its larger hospital capacity than other states, fared better than others.

It was a small consolation.  "Ben Fenwick

1. James, Michael S., " "How Many People Could Bird Flu Kill?"?" (Note: contains revised World Health Organization estimate used in 2006 Report). 

2. ABC News Original Report, " Expert Predicts "

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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