Coronavirus update at the capitol: Testing, National Guard and medical supplies

Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt held another news conference for the second day in a row regarding COVID-19.

This, coming after he declared a health emergency for all 77 counties in Oklahoma. Stitt also extended his executive order until April 30.

“With this order, the state can get workers and money to the frontlines of our COVID-19 response as quickly as possible,” Stitt said.

Testing is one of the major topics around the nation, and was a major topic during the news conference, as the peak of the pandemic sits right around the corner.

“We have got to increase the testing in the State of Oklahoma,” Stitt said.

According to Stitt, there are 15,000 tests available at state laboratories. More may be available at private labs.

“We need all of our state health departments, our hospitals, our mobile labs to loosen those standards,” he said.

Nine of the mobile labs Stitt discussed are available around the state right now. Friday, that number will jump to 14.

“The national guard is here to help,” Stitt said.

Two weeks ago, the Oklahoma National Guard activated its joint task force to help deliver critically needed medical supplies. Stitt said there are now 29 units called up.

“We needed to gather information from all of our hospitals, we needed to get logistics down, we needed to deliver supplies out to our hospitals,” he said, describing the duties of the National Guard.

Oklahoma’s personal protective equipment supply, or PPE – that being gloves, gowns, face and eye protection and N-95 and surgical masks – got a boost from the federal government. The state placed another order for 1.2 million N-95 masks.

Meanwhile, hospital staffing is also becoming a concern. Officials said they are now hoping to pull some people out of retirement.

“We have now relaxed some of the structures relative to licensure that may have gone out because of retirement,” said Secretary of Health Jerome Loughridge.

Stitt also passed an executive order Thursday morning that will allow local school districts to pay their support staff while their buildings are closed.

“I want to make sure our school boards have the authority to fulfill support staff contracts for the rest of the school year,” he said.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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