Oklahoma lifting certain restrictions to increase COVID-19 testing

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OKLAHOMA COUNTY (KFOR) – As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, state leaders say they are doing more to expand testing in Oklahoma.

On Wednesday, Gov. Stitt and the Oklahoma State Health Department lifted restrictions on COVID-19 testing. 

The state no longer requires a doctor’s referral, and no longer limits tests to those only in at-risk categories. 

“Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have come in contact with someone with COVID needs to be tested this week,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said on Wednesday.

The state is trying to avoid experiences like that of Tanner Frisbie.

“We called a telemedicine doctor. He did the CDC prescreening and said, ‘You most likely have an infection that was brought on by COVID,'” Frisbie said.  “‘You need to go get screened and tested immediately.’”

Frisbie says that was four weeks ago, but he wasn’t able to get a test until this past weekend. 

He says the test came back negative, but at the same time, it was hard not knowing for sure what was wrong with him. 

“The uncertainty is the biggest source of fear,” Frisbie said.  “Just to be able to find answers to what’s going on, that you don’t feel well, but we know it’s this.”

Despite the state lifting restrictions, Oklahoma County still requires doctor’s referrals in order to be tested in the county.  

“Just because of the sheer number of folks that would show up to the site,” L’Toya Knighten, with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, told KFOR.  “Unfortunately to keep it organized, the process, we are still doing it by doctor referral.”

Knighten says there are just too many people in the county to not require a referral.

Starting Thursday, the county is making changes to start testing more people.  

“Previously we were just doing the high-risk categories as defined by the CDC,” Knighten said. “As of today, we’ve opened it where a doctor can refer one of their patients that’s just exhibiting symptoms.”

Knighten says if you don’t have a primary care doctor, there is a hotline you can call to be screened over the phone.  That number is 405-425-4489.

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