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New partnership bringing mobile testing sites to underserved communities

Posted at 8:11 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 23:24:15-04

TULSA, Okla. — As the state’s coronavirus numbers start to go down, testing is going to go up.

Governor Kevin Stitt announced a public-private partnership between the state health department and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma. They are using Blue Cross Blue Shield’s nine Caring Vans as mobile testing sites in underserved communities. It's part of Gov. Stitt’s plan to expand testing across the state.

“We encourage anybody with symptoms, we encourage anyone that just wants to get tested at this point," Stitt said. "We have plenty of testing in our state. Certainly, if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, we want you to get tested.”

The Caring Vans will bring testing to those who don’t have easy access to transportation. So far, two vans were in use this week, including one in north Tulsa on Wednesday. The Tulsa Health Department says you do need an appointment. You can call them to set it up. Right now, the Caring Vans are doing nasal swab testing but hope to transition to saliva testing soon.

“We also knew that it’s critical for us to perform more tests to have a better handle on this extremely contagious infection," said Dr. Joseph Cunningham, president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

So far, the state has collected more than 63,000 tests. It hopes to collect 90,000 by the end of May. Stitt said only 5.67 percent of tests are coming back positive now compared to 10 percent at the beginning of April.

"Oklahomans have done a fantastic job," Stitt said. "And I said it in the beginning, the better job we do in early April meant we’re going to get back to work quicker in May.”

More dates and locations for the Caring Vans will be announced next week. Meanwhile, there are 80 test sites across Oklahoma. You can find the testing site closest to you by calling 211 or visiting this website.

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