State lawmaker hospitalized with COVID-19, local health care under continued pressure

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

As Oklahoma hospitals remain inundated with patients, one state lawmaker is also hospitalized with COVID-19. A state capitol source on Thursday confirmed Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, had been hospitalized but no other details about his condition or location were immediately available. 

Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill

Hardin was among Republican lawmakers over the summer to oppose vaccine mandates by businesses and hospitals. Last month, Hardin issued a statement calling on the “Oklahoma standard” to drive vaccinations over employer mandates. 

The news of Hardin’s illness came one day after Mercy Hospital Ardmore President Daryle Voss said that hospital staff are growing increasingly weary as the pandemic drags on and continues to pressure local health care resources. 

“This is the 4th week we have suspended all elective inpatient surgeries in an effort to provide beds for the surge in COVID patients.  Long waits for care and even longer waits for an inpatient bed continue to occur in our Emergency Department,” said Voss in a Wednesday email. 

“Essentially, we are consistently out of staffed beds as there are patients in the ER waiting for them as soon as a patient discharges,” he said.  

The Ardmore hospital on Wednesday was caring for 32 patients with COVID-19, seven of whom were receiving ICU treatment. The three-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state again climbed over 1,400 on Thursday, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. 

Hospitals across the state are also dealing with extreme patient loads. In Lawton, the Comanche County Memorial Hospital announced a tent was erected on Tuesday to handle the increased needs. Of the 3,079 COVID-19 hospitalizations recorded in Oklahoma between early August and Sept. 6, almost 2,900 of them were among unvaccinated patients, according to the weekly OSDH epidemiology report released on Wednesday. 

The pandemic has already claimed over 8,200 lives in Oklahoma, according to OSDH data. When adjusted for population, Oklahoma ranked sixth in the nation last week for the most COVID-19 deaths recorded.  

“Our co-workers have done a remarkable job but are growing incredibly weary from the daily struggle,” said Voss.