State reports 45k+ specimens on Friday, steep increase from 6k specimen average

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Everyday the state reports the results from an average of 6,000 tests, or specimens. But on Friday, the number was eight times that average, so News 4 asked the Oklahoma Department of Health to explain.

Typically the OSDH reports the results of on average about 6,000 cases, ranging from double digits to 20,000+ specimens.

On Friday, the state reported 45,290 new specimens.

Early Monday morning, we asked the state health department what was behind the increase.

While waiting for an a response, News 4 talked to Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Medicine’s Chief Covid Officer.

He said he suspects the increase is from a backlog of negative tests.

“They seem to be batching up negative tests. In other words, they get the positive test reported earlier than they do the negative test,” Dr. Bratzler said.

That would explain why those specimens have a lower positivity rate (Dr. Bratzler calculated 7.9%) than previous days’ positivity rates (10.5%-11%).

“Public health is underfunded. I mean, they were never prepared with their data systems, or staffing or personnel to handle a pandemic of this proportion,” Dr. Bratzler said.

Because of the limited staffing and resources, letting people know when they test positive takes priority over those who test negative.

OSDH responded to our questions with the following statement:

“A major contributor for the large increase in the total number of specimens tested to date is the fact that Xpress Wellness Urgent Care Clinic has been testing since May 18 and began reporting to us on Friday last week, which included all of their negative test results. They have been reporting all of their positive test results as required during that time period.”

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