With loosened requirements for testing, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and the state department of health said they hope to see 90,000 people get tested for COVID-19 in May.
“With more testing and expanding our contact tracing, we will be able to continue to slow the spread of this virus and keep Oklahomans safe,” Stitt said at a press conference Thursday.
The state health department has directed local health departments to allow testing of all patients, even those who have not displayed the symptoms outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Before this week, a patient was required to have shown symptoms or have had contact with an individual who tested positive.
“Our public health and our partners are prepared to handle this response, and handle this increase,” said Gary Cox, the Oklahoma Health Commissioner.
Tests are being offered by local health departments, including the Oklahoma City County Health Department. Drive-thru tests are being conducted at the state fairgrounds.
News 9 anchor Amanda Taylor received an antibody test at an Oklahoma City lab Friday, and said the process was quick and easy.
“I wasn’t even home yet when I got a text saying, ‘you do not have COVID-19 antibodies,” she said. “It was a relief to know that simply because I would never ever want to give it to somebody.”
Antibody tests focus on the patient’s prior exposure to the virus. A test can determine if a patient was recently exposed to COVID-19, and if their immune system has created antibodies to fight it.
“It is not a ‘are you exposed now, are you infected now,’ it just answers the question of whether you’ve been exposed over the last 6 months or so,” said Robert Thomas, the owner of Analytical Edge Laboratories, of anti-body testing.
Local health departments offer nasal swab tests to determine if a patient is currently infected with the virus.
The swabs have a lower risk of returning a false-positive or a false-negative than the antibody tests, Thomas said.