Efforts are ramping up to once again provide free, widespread COVID-19 testing in Oklahoma.
The number of tests performed statewide has steadily increased since mid-July during a sharp rise in cases, but many public and private testing sites closed in the weeks after Oklahoma came out of a winter surge because of low demand.
The state health department announced last week it has renewed an agreement with IMMY Labs to stand up sites as it did earlier in the pandemic. The state is also searching for more rapid tests to send to local health departments and recently received 100,000 for distribution.
"You know, we’re seeing that the public is really – really looking to those rapid tests, they’re looking for the immediate results. This is kind of a shift from what we saw last year, to where it was primarily PCR focused," said Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed.
Meanwhile, Tulsa County Commissioners agreed to give the Tulsa Health Department $500,000 to boost testing capacity through December. It’s their latest expenditure from the county’s American Rescue Plan allocation.
"This is an extension of nearly $4 million of direct support that we’ve provided to the health department with CARES funding, and this direct support was used to enhance the testing and contact tracing capabilities, develop public health outreach, and support additional staffing needs, and much more," said Tulsa County Commission Chairman Stan Sallee.
THD at one point shut down mass testing sites because of low demand.