ENID, Okla. — State Health Department officials are encouraging Oklahomans to get tested for COVID-19, saying Thursday, May 28, 2020, that due to adequate supplies, residents no longer need to exhibit symptoms or report exposure to someone with the virus to get in line for testing.
Making COVID-19 tests more accessible to Oklahomans, increasing contact tracing and following state and CDC guidelines are keys to the state’s strategy to minimize the spread of the deadly virus, said Lance Frye, M.D.
The interim health commissioner went on to say the percentage of positive cases dropped to a record low of 3.8% in Oklahoma so far in May, a month when Oklahoma surpassed its goal to collect and test more than 90,000 specimens.
“Reaching this goal is only a starting point in the strategy for Oklahoma,” Frye said.
As of Wednesday, Oklahoma State Department of Health had processed 113,264 specimens collected for COVID-19 testing since the first of the month, with a total of 183,632 tests conducted since COVID-19 was first detected in early March, according to an OSDH press release.
Many of those tests were taken by nursing home and long-term care facility staff and residents, where the virus has impacted particularly hard. OSDH reported 937, or 15%, of the state’s positive COVID-19 cases involved a resident or staff member, according to the agency’s latest executive report to the governor. The report also shows there have been 167 deaths involving long-term care centers and nursing homes, one of which was a Major County resident and a staff member in a Northwest Oklahoma facility.
In addition to long-term care testing, the state was able to achieve its goal due to more than 80 OSDH county health departments' testing locations and its work with state prisons. The efforts led to an average of 4,324 tests conducted daily, according to OSDH.
“Teamwork across state agencies and the trust and support of Oklahomans allowed us to reach this critical milestone and quadruple COVID-19 testing in the month of May,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said. “Oklahomans prove time and again that our state is a standard bearer in how to come together in times of crisis and take care of our communities. It is very important we maintain this momentum to minimize the presence of COVID-19. We need Oklahomans to continue to seek out testing, to work with the Health Department’s contact tracers and medical experts and to be personally responsible with washing hands and physical distancing.”
Regional COVID-19 testing sites are open in multiple cities in Oklahoma as a result of a cross-county, city and state health system partnership, and Oklahomans can find a free testing location in their community by visiting: https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/testing-sites.
Testing is by appointment only for Blaine County, 521 W. 4th, Watonga, (580) 623-7977; Garfield County, 2501 S. Mercer, Enid, (580) 233-0650; Grant County, 115 N. Main, Medford, (580) 395-2906; Kingfisher County, 124 E. Sheridan, courthouse annex room #101, Kingfisher, (405) 375-3008; Major County, 501 E. Broadway, Fairview, (580) 227-3362; Noble County, 300 Fir St., Perry, (580) 336-2257; Woods County, 511 Barnes St., Alva, (580) 327-3192; and Woodward County, 1631 Texas Ave., Woodward, (580) 256-6416. Some health department also advise the public to check their Facebook pages for more information regarding testing.