OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma remained critically low on COVID-19 testing kits even as the governor pushed forward with his ambitious plan to open mobile testing sites in four cities.
State officials have placed a “significant order” for more COVID-19 testing supplies and expect it to arrive this week, said Baylee Lakey, a spokeswoman for Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“In expectation for this significant increase in resources, the state has a plan in place to stand up appropriate infrastructure to expand our testing capacity statewide,” she said. “The state has a plan in place to bring a select number of satellite sites online as soon as COVID-19 testing supplies are delivered and available.”
On Sunday, Stitt said he planned to open mobile testing locations in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kay County and McAlester. Officials would not say why there would no testing sites available in western Oklahoma.
Lakey said the satellite locations are based on the number of cases in a county and availability of staffing and locations for testing.
On Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases jumped to 106. Health officials reported three people had died and 25 more were hospitalized.
Forty-one people had tested positive in Oklahoma County; 12 in Tulsa County; and five in Kay. There were no positive cases reported Pittsburg County where McAlester is located.
Lakey said specific information about dates and how the process would work will be made public later this week.
Stitt spokesman Charlie Hannema said the sites would focus more on triage — or checking people for symptoms — rather than drive-through locations where people will automatically get swabbed.
“I don’t want to give off the impression that everyone who shows up at one of those will get a test,” he said.
He said only those showing symptoms of coronavirus — like fever, cough and shortness of breath — initially will be eligible for testing at the sites. And vulnerable populations along with health care workers, who may have been exposed or are already ill, also will be prioritized.
Lakey said the large shipment of the COVID-19 testing reagent expected to arrive this week will be distributed among the labs, including the state Health Department public laboratory and the labs at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. The universities are expected to boost the state’s capacity once testing abilities expand.
Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.