State COVID-19 Cases Among Nursing Homes Remain Low Amid Nationwide Uptick

Wednesday, October 21st 2020, 10:52 pm
By: Clayton Cummins

Nursing homes nationwide are beginning to see an increase in the amount of positive COVID-19 cases. 

For the first time in seven weeks, according to federal data, an uptick was reported in COVID-19 cases among nursing homes. 

Early on in the pandemic, many Tulsa area nursing homes experienced outbreaks as did a nursing home in Norman.  

“We, at the state level, feel like we are doing everything we can,” said Travis Kirkpatrick, the Deputy Commissioner at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “We know this is a marathon, not a sprint.” 

Oklahoma nursing homes, right now, seem to be an exception to the trend. Should that change, state health officials said they’re prepared to tackle it on a case by case basis. 

“If we start to see some uptick, we will collaborate with our partner agencies and our entities and then work collaboratively to see what the best use of our recourses is to make sure that we can continue to mitigate the spread of the virus,” said Kirkpatrick.  

The federal government has armed some nursing homes statewide with rapid testing. One hundred seventy-one Oklahoma City nursing homes received federal test kids as did 103 in Tulsa and 25 in Shawnee. 

That testing is helping to make knowledge power.  

“It stacks on top of the antigen testing that they already have and also the testing that we are able to supply for these facilities should they have an outbreak,” said Kirkpatrick.  

Care Providers Oklahoma hasn’t let their guard down. They said additional outbreaks could push faculties staffing and budgets to a breaking point. 

Personal protection equipment for example still continues to be at a premium in the market,” said Care Providers Oklahoma CEO, Steven Buck. “It is much higher than it was than the pre-COVID days and our providers are having to expend resources on that.” 

The state health department said Oklahoma is doing pretty well regionally when it comes to nursing homes and COVID-19.  Something they’ll continue to watch closely.