Despite the storms bringing several forms of precipitation to the Sooner state, drought levels have remained relatively the same, with the majority of the state experiencing extreme to exceptional levels of dryness. On a more positive note, seasonal flu data for Oklahoma shows regional mild activity in the 2012-2013 flu season that officially began Sept. 30.
The Dec. 27 weekly report of the U.S. Drought Monitor held no real surprises for Oklahoma. Most of the state continues to experience the most severe levels of drought with only three small pockets of the state experiencing only severe drought.
The recent forecast for the time period Dec. 20 through March 31 doesn't bode well for the state with predictions that the drought will persist or intensify through the time period for all but the smallest southeast corner of the state.
Residents of the state will have to wait until Jan. 3 to learn what, if any, impact the recent snow and frozen precipitation since Christmas Day has had on this nearly record-breaking spell of drought.
Seasonal Flu Data
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , Oklahoma, like 13 other states, is experiencing only regional episodes of seasonal flu, nearly two months into official flu season. More than 30 states, including three of Oklahoma's neighboring states, are experiencing widespread episodes of the illness.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health released its weekly report for the time period of Dec. 19-25 that revealed 21 people were hospitalized during the time period who tested positively for influenza. From Sept. 30 through Dec. 25, 75 people have been hospitalized with the illness and one person has died.
The total hospitalizations for the 2012-2012 flu season show that the age group most affected to date have been those age 65 years and older; the second highest rate is among newborns to 4-year-olds. The state's only influenza-related death occurred in the age 19 years to 64 years old group in Tulsa County.
Oklahoma counties with the greatest number of influenza hospitalizations are Tulsa County with 24 and Oklahoma County with 10, but due to these counties' large populations, the hospitalizations represent only 1.4 out of every 100,000 residents being hospitalized with influenza in Oklahoma County and four out of every 100,000 in Tulsa County.
It will be interesting to note what, if any, actions are taken on state, county, or local levels to address the continuing drought in Oklahoma. With livestock ponds drying up, how will small business farmers and ranchers weather the economic realities?
The CDC reports that there have been eight pediatric deaths from seasonal influenza so far this flu season. Children younger than age 5, and especially those under age 2, are among the high-risk populations recommended to receive the flu vaccine. There is still time for youngsters and adults to receive their immunizations before the usual peak months of January and February. Oklahomans interested in obtaining a flu vaccine can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-234-6196.
Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.