Oklahoma running critically low on test kits; metro ERs say stay away



OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Integris Hospital called a press conference Wednesday afternoon to encourage sick Oklahomans to not flood the emergency rooms during the spread of COVID-19.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health also announced Wednesday it’s down to its last 100 test kits and there is no set delivery date on when we will see more.

“If you come, we may not be able to test you,” Dr. David Chansolme said.

Metro emergency rooms are being forced to turn people away as the state dips into its reserves for COVID-19 test kits.

“We just know we are really, really low,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is down to 100 kits, a “critically low” amount, and that’s not the only item running on empty.

“We have a shortage of the swabs to use to take the sample itself,” Dr. Chansolme said.

And not even all swabs will necessarily make it to a kit.

Integris Hospitals say they are bracing for impact.

“We are working on setting up tents if it gets to that need,” the hospital staff said.

For now, the only ones to be tested are patients who show severe symptoms and people in the following high risk categories: the elderly and people who have either chronic diseases or pre-existing health conditions.

“If everyone rushes to the emergency care because they are sick or scared, we are going to have a problem,” President of Integris Tim Pehrson said.

Gov. Kevin Stitt agreed with the hospital at his press conference on Wednesday, as he urged sick Oklahomans to call their healthcare providers first for screening.

“For most people, the best action is to just stay at home,” Stitt said.

“If the community doesn’t buy into this, it doesn’t work,” Pehrson said. “And we will be Italy, and then we will be making those choices on who gets the ventilator or not.”

“Testing is not going to fix the problem ,” Dr. Chansolme said. “What is going to fix the problem is washing your hands and social distancing.”

Doctors also tell News 4 that Oklahoma is so low on tests. People who may have been in contact with someone who did test positive for coronavirus most likely won’t even be tested.

If you feel sick, please call the hotline at 1-877-215-8336.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

This article has been updated: We removed a statement that this hospital was nearly at capacity. We also removed the video. 3/19/2020

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