Oklahoma enters agreement with private lab to expand ability to conduct COVID-19 tests

Coronavirus
Data pix.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - As state leaders announced they were concerned about a lack of testing kits in Oklahoma, officials say they have entered into a new partnership to increase the state's ability to test patients for COVID-19.

Two days ago, doctors warned patients that they didn't have enough reagents to test everyone for the novel coronavirus.

“There does continue to be a worldwide shortage of testing kits,” said Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, INTEGRIS Physician Executive.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Gary Cox said they are continuing to order more COVID-19 tests, but the suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand.

“We are not able to test everyone who wants to be tested,” said Dr. Ibrahim.

Officials say patients who are showing symptoms, are over the age of 65-years-old or have chronic medical conditions are the ones being tested.

“If you feel a little bit sick, you probably don’t need to come to the hospital just to take a test,” said Dr. David Chansolme, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at INTEGRIS Health.

image of a test tube with covid-19 marked positive
(Photo by Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images)

On Friday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced that it entered into a public-private partnership with Diagnostic Labs of Oklahoma to increase the capacity for delivering results for COVID-19 tests.

As a result, more than 300 test specimens were shipped Thursday to DLO's facility in Dallas. Results are expected to be announced within the next couple of days.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health appreciates the strengthened partnership with DLO to send COVID-19 test kits to its facilities in Dallas for rapid results,” said Commissioner of Health Gary Cox. “The state is committed to expanding testing and result capacity by building out more public-private partnerships here at home and across the United States. Thanks to action taken at the federal level, we are expecting more supplies to come online in the coming days to support our efforts."

Officials stress that the partnership will allow current demand for COVID-19 test results to be met within a two-to three-day time frame.

At this point, the Public Health Laboratory will continue to prioritize its limited in-house supply for delivering results within 24-hours for Oklahoma's most vulnerable populations.

As this new public-private lab partnership expands Oklahoma’s capacity to deliver timely results, it will allow the OSDH, county health departments, hospitals, health care providers and others begin pursuing innovative options for increasing access to COVID-19 testing,” Cox said.

KFOR reached out to the new Oklahoma State Epidemiologist Dr. Aaron Wendelboe and the DLO for an interview, but both requests were denied.

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