Gov. Stitt Unveils New State Pandemic Center

Wednesday, October 7th 2020, 6:24 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The state is building a state-of-the-art pandemic laboratory in Stillwater at a cost of nearly $60 million. 

The new Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence will combine state, college and private resources to combat future pandemics.

“We are expecting more to come. Just think about it, Ebola, different things that have happened in the past. The frequency of these. The possibility of something happening in the future is definitely something we will plan for,” said Oklahoma Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye.

“This will be the first of its kind in the entire nation. It will combine agriculture, human medicine, food safety, public health testing and preparedness, and animal safety, animal health,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.

The Stillwater facility will replace the state’s current lab. The cost to build it: $58.2 million; about 25 million of that will come from the federal CARES Act. 

“There is some CARES money that is available that we will be utilizing for this project between now and the end of the year. And our legislature has been very forward thinking as they put in place a bond that could be executed several years ago for the building of a new public health lab,” said Elizabeth Pollard, Secretary of Science and Innovation.

“We’re trying to best utilize the CARES money before the end of the year so there’s a possibility of using some of that,” added Dr. Frye.

Governor Stitt said the new pandemic center will bring in the resources of state and national experts.

“This center will have not only testing capabilities but the ability to have mobile units that can be deployed, that will allow us to actually store specimens as well as bring new testing capability to the state,” said Pollard.

State leaders said the new center will expand testing ability, which will take pressure off other testing sites.