OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb across the state and the country, there is new guidance from the CDC when it comes to both wearing masks and for testing, even for those that are fully vaccinated.
The CDC has always recommended wearing a mask indoors and getting tested if exposed to the virus, if you are unvaccinated, but now they say those who have gotten the shot need to follow suit.
“Its very, very real and it’s kind of back,” said Dr. David Chansolme.
The Head of Infection Prevention for INTEGRIS Health OKC says the Delta variant is playing into a steady rise in hospitalizations statewide, while he says very few of those patients have been vaccinated.
“We have seen this new variant come out, its much more transmissible, it’s much more contagious and it does occasionally evade the vaccine,” said Dr. Chansolme.
Chansolme says that’s behind the new guidelines for those fully vaccinated.
The CDC is recommending to “wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
Accord to the latest data, most of the state of Oklahoma falls into that category.
But will this lead to mask mandates? Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office says they don’t plan on one and neither does the Oklahoma State Department of Health, but they do recommend following the guidelines.
KFOR asked Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt if there were plans to reinstate the city’s mask mandate. He says that would be up to a vote of the Oklahoma City council, but, quote, “No one is talking about that. For me, I just remain focused on encouraging people to get vaccinated.”
Schools are unable to put mask mandates in place per a new state law. But the University of Oklahoma tells News 4 they will change their recommendations and protocols to comply with the CDC soon.
The new guidelines also say for those who have gotten the shot, “If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms.”
“We have seen a huge uptick in testing in the last few weeks,” said Shaye Matthews of Dax Labs.
When the Cares Act expired at the end of 2020, some insurance companies changed their policies for when and how much they would pay for a COVID test.
The owner of a small lab near Edmond says they have always kept their Rapid test cost under $100, but other sites are different and that’s leading to testing difficulty for some.
“What we are hearing from patients is that they are looking for tests and all they are seeing is $250, $300 per rapid test. So, we are seeing an uptick in that, as well as an increase because of the Delta variant,” said Matthews.
Experts say check with your insurance before you get to the private testing center so you are not surprised.
The Oklahoma City-County Health Department says they offer free testing at their Southern Oaks location only. You can just walk up but they prefer you make an appointment.