State Medical Association President concerned Oklahomans are avoiding COVID-19 testing to evade quarantine

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – There’s new concern in the Oklahoma health community about COVID-19 testing hesitancy.

Some of our state’s top doctors say they’re worried Oklahomans aren’t getting tested when they should – fearing they will have to quarantine and miss school or work.

“If you don’t know you’re positive, you can’t be quarantined,” said Dr. Mary Clarke, President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

As unpleasant as the COVID-19 swabs can be, some doctors say the biggest reason Oklahomans are hesitant to get tested is the consequences of quarantine.

“I know that sounds really crazy to think about, but we’re not always making the best choices,” Clarke said.

A positive test result could mean missing long periods work or school – or even staying home with a child in your care.

“That has been a big concern and that’s a reasonable concern,” said Clarke. 

Clarke says although those concerns are legitimate – there are bigger worries and dangers in not knowing you’re carrying and spreading COVID-19.

“I think it’s a poor choice to not test and not know because you’re affecting all your friends and family around you, that’s where we get into the problems and continuing to spread,” Clarke said. 

Clarke’s spouse works at a state university and says the biggest concern they’ve heard is that students are choosing to not get tested when they probably should.

“My personal experience is that the faculty want protections,” said Clarke. “The faculty want to know who’s sick. They’re very concerned about them getting sick and not wanting to teach their class.”

She hopes employers will show understanding to anyone who needs to quarantine or stay home with a quarantined child.

“The vast majority want their employees to be as safe as possible in a healthy way,” Clarke said. “If you own a business, which medicine is still a business, I need healthy, productive workers to do the job. We can do this but everybody has to be together.”

University of Oklahoma sent KFOR the following statement:

Keeping the OU community healthy this fall remains a top priority. Students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19, have symptoms or are considered a close contact should complete the Passport through the Healthy Together App. Once completed, communication and instruction will be sent through the app that can be shared with instructors or supervisors informing them of an extended absence and request for accommodations if necessary. If students need additional support, they can contact Student Affairs. The university urges all OU community members to get vaccinated; expects masking indoors, especially in high-density settings; and asks that everyone continue practicing healthy behaviors, including frequent hand washing and staying home when ill. For more information, visit www.ou.edu/together.

Oklahoma State University also sent News 4 a statement:

We continue to encourage students and staff to be tested at the appropriate times when they’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, or if they have symptoms, even those they believe may be cold or flu. If a student is in quarantine, faculty members work with them to deliver course material and help them stay up with the rest of the class. Staff in in both Academic Affairs and Student Affairs reach out to support these students as well. 

Full-time OSU faculty and staff are provided a very competitive benefits package which includes sick leave accruals of 22 days per year. These accruals are available for use by individuals who are required to quarantine due to their own health issues or caregiving responsibilities. In some cases, the employee is able to work remotely during the quarantine period which allows them to continue with their work while also minimizing their need for sick leave. Student workers with OSU are not eligible for paid leave, but there are some cases where it is possible for the student to continue to work from home during their quarantine period as well.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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