Demand for COVID-19 testing in Oklahoma increases as new cases rise

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Oklahomans go back to work after a long holiday weekend with family and friends, many are looking to get tested for COVID-19.

However, the new variant is putting a run on testing as new cases continue to rise.

One lab official says there is four times more testing going on now than just two weeks ago. The combination of the holidays and a new variant are pushing Oklahomans to look for the swab.

“I think I tried on Wednesday everywhere to get an appointment and today was the first day I could get something,” said Debbie Jordan of Edmond.

On Monday, healthcare workers spent the day managing a steady flow of COVID testers driving in and out of Diagnostic Laboratories of Oklahoma’s test site in north Oklahoma City… But down in Norman, long lines and cars wrapped around block to get the swab or the shot at the IMMY Labs‘ drive-thru location.

“It’s surprising. Obviously we wish we didn’t have as many people testing,” said Jenner Gutierrez of Norman.

“There has been an uptick for sure,” said Keegan Nees of IMMY Labs.

IMMY Labs officials say they are ready for the surge that normally happens around the holidays, but now is amplified by the Omicron variant.

They have increased staffing and opened more locations around the metro.

“In the last two weeks we have seen an increase of about 400%,” said Nees.

What about testing at home? Think again. Drugstore after drugstore we visited had empty shelves and signs telling customers there are not kits to be sold.

Last week President Joe Biden promised millions of home tests would be provided to Americans but we called the Oklahoma State Health Department. They tell News 4 that they are still waiting to hear the plan for how those tests will be distributed.

So for now with health officials warning of milder symptoms with omicron, Interim State Health Commissioner Keith Reed releasing a statement to KFOR today saying..

“Seeing the trends across the country, along with the arrival of the omicron variant, it would be no surprise to see our case counts rise in the coming days and weeks. However, hospitalizations are our most meaningful indicator at this time, as they best capture the most immediate impact of COVID.
Regardless of the current status of cases or hospitalizations, we continue to encourage Oklahomans to get vaccinated, get boosted and take additional precautions when indoors. We also encourage anyone who has symptoms, even cold like symptoms, to get tested. COVID-19 testing is free and available at a multitude of locations throughout the state, including county health departments. You can find a testing site near you by visiting Oklahoma.gov/covid19 or simply Google ‘COVID-19 testing near me’.”

Keith Reed, Interim Commissioner of Health

“If you have any doubts, it’s always good to be safe to make sure that you don’t have it rather than wonder if you do or not,” said Nees.

Testing is free for Oklahoma residents. There are places that are open to walk ups but most sites require an appointment.

Learn more about state testing sites at Oklahoma.gov/covid19.

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