By Traci Chapman
Mustang American Legion Post 353’s hope to ring in a merry Christmas with a Thursday evening was dashed over the weekend, in light of concerns related to a spike in new cases of the novel coronavirus.
The Post’s executive committee made the decision to cancel the post’s Dec. 9 Christmas dinner Sunday, Adjutant Don Kuntze said. The annual event is open not only to Legionnaires, but also to the larger community of veterans and active military personnel and their families.
“The executive board felt it was not in the best interest of our community to host the dinner at this time,” officials said. “It was a difficult decision but the health and wellbeing of our community was foremost in our decision.”
While no cases of the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, were yet reported in the area as of press time, Oklahoma State Health Department Monday released figures showing a new spike in Delta – which has proven to be more transmissible than the original strain that first made its presence known in the state in March 2020. Monday’s figures showed the diagnosis of 4,338 new cases since Saturday through Monday, 1,280 of them allocated to Dec. 6 alone. Active cases once again topped five digits, at 10,742 as of Monday, while deaths in Oklahoma related to COVID-10 passed the 12,000 mark – with 12,027 Oklahomans dying as a result of the virus since the pandemic’s start.
Monday’s cases brought Oklahoma’s total positive diagnoses to 674,758, state health department records showed.
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Monday 17 states had identified Omicron variant cases, with the first in the country identified Dec. 1. The new variant appeared to originate in South Africa and poses a concern for medical professionals because it appears to be so much more communicable than either of the other COVID-19 strains seen so far.
Mustang Public School District hosted a coronavirus vaccination clinic Friday and many area physicians, pharmacies and other entities offer both the first and second doses, as well as a third booster now approved for all adults.
As of Dec. 5, 51.7% of Oklahomans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 63.5% have received at least one dose. Everyone age 5 years old and older is now eligible for a vaccination, and many state health officials and medical professionals continue to urge everyone who has not been fully vaccinated – and those adults who have not received a booster shot – to do so as quickly as possible.
“It’s not a matter of if, but when, Omicron will make it to the state – if it’s not already here and we’re not yet aware of it,” said a state health official who has provided information to the Times throughout the pandemic. “We know there’s a lot of bad information, misinformation out there, but it’s safe, it’s effective and it can help keep our citizens and their families safe as we continue to have to deal with COVID-19.”