Oklahoma trying to catch up on COVID-19 testing

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After weeks of shortages, state officials say Oklahoma has thousands of COVID-19 tests at sites across the state.

According to the latest numbers from the state, Oklahoma has conducted right around 2,000 tests. That’s only about one test for every 2,000 people in the state.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says it’s running more tests than it was this time last week, but officials in rural counties say it’s still not enough. 

“We know it’s spreading, we know it’s coming through here,” Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer told KFOR.  “We can only make those assumptions right now because we don’t have those positives.”

The state had a drive-thru testing site in Woodward on Wednesday, but Lehenbauer says they only sent around 100 tests. 

He also says the state gave them strict guidelines on who could be tested.

 “We do know quite a few people that are wanting to come, but they don’t meet one or more of those standards,” Lehenbauer said.  “I think that’s caused some concern with some of the public that they won’t quite qualify.”

The state says it’s actually lifting testing restrictions. 

Officials say the state will no longer require a doctor’s referral, and it is not limiting tests to only the vulnerable populations. 

Gov. Stitt says he wants anyone showing symptoms, or anyone that has come into contact with someone who has the virus, to be tested.  

“Providers, healthcare officials, hospitals, county drive-thru testing facilities, if you can hear me, please begin testing all of those folks today,”  Stitt said during his Wednesday press conference.

Stitt says right now, there are 13,600 test kits available. Also, the state can process more tests than ever with the Oklahoma State lab officially open. 

The health department says it expects the state’s numbers to increase significantly in the next week with the OSU lab up and running.  

“This will allow the state to test over 2,000 tests per day,” Shelley Zumwalt, with the Oklahoma State Health Department, told KFOR.  “We should be able to get results for those tests in as few as five hours. So that really changes the game as far as how many tests we can processed per day.”

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