OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Tens of thousands of Oklahoma nursing home and long-term care facility residents and staff members were tested for COVID-19 in May.
Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office issued a news release Tuesday stating that more than 35,800 residents and staff at 265 nursing homes and long-term care facilities were tested for COVID-19 by the Governor’s Solution Task Force and Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) in May.
Of the tests administered at those facilities, 1,142 tests (3.18 percent) returned as positive for coronavirus. Of the 1,142, 714 are residents and 428 are staff members.
“Thanks to hardworking public employees and health care professionals across the state, we were able to quadruple our overall COVID-19 testing in May,” Stitt said. “They quickly and successfully adapted to this remarkable increase in workload, and we are in the midst of improving our infrastructure and expanding staffing to ensure we can maintain this momentum.”
OSDH plans to conclude testing at the remaining nursing homes and long-term care facilities by the end of this week, according to the news release.
91 nursing home or long-term care facilities in Oklahoma have had at least one positive case of COVID-19, according to the news release.
“Of these facilities, 98% were found to be following CDC guidelines and only two were reported for violations, which have been appropriately documented and partnerships formed to help these facilities adjust practices and enhance services for their residents,” the news release states.
Stitt’s office released these COVID-19 statistics days after Democrats in the Oklahoma State Senate called upon Stitt to devise a plan to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19.
Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd sent a letter to Stitt on Friday, asking him to create a plan for repeated and ongoing testing in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
The letter is as follows:
We are writing to follow up on your commitment to test all Oklahoma nursing home staff and residents for COVID-19 by the end of May. On May 6th, Secretary of Health Loughridge reported that 12,250 specimens out of about 31,500 total residents and staff at nursing homes in the state had been tested so far. We respectfully request that your administration provide the Legislature with updated testing numbers and a report on progress toward completing testing by the end of this month.
We also request a plan for repeated and ongoing testing in nursing homes and long term care facilities. As you are aware, more than half of Oklahoma’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred at nursing homes and long term care facilities and people connected to these facilities account for around one in five of Oklahoma’s positive COVID-19 cases.
Finally, your executive order limiting visitation to nursing home facilities expires on May 30th. We urge you to put forward a clear and workable plan to safely allow families to resume visitation to their loved ones who reside in these facilities. Our caucus stands ready to work with you and your administration on this important matter.Sen. Kay Floyd, on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Oklahoma, on June 1, moved into Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan, which allows businesses to resume unrestricted staffing at their worksites. However, businesses are recommended to continue increased cleaning and disinfecting practices.
The third phase also mandates that limited hospital visitation can be reinstated, but visitation at nursing homes and long-term care facilities must remain suspended.
Oklahoma has 6,692 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 339 coronavirus deaths as of Tuesday, June 2.