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Oklahomans upset with delays in COVID-19 test results

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 19:31:23-04

TULSA, Okla. — As the state struggles with errors in COVID-19 numbers, Oklahomans are struggling to get test results.

READ MORE: 168 new cases of COVID-19: Case numbers low due to "technical data entry issues"

Just a few months after going back to work as a bartender, Lillian Phillips had to go into quarantine once again.

"I was out of work for 11 days and that included two weekends, so that's about half of my income for the month," she said.

Phillips' close friend who she spends a lot of time with tested positive for COVID-19. Phillips immediately got tested on July 2 at a pharmacy. She stayed home as she waited, and waited, for her results.

"I had to order everything delivery and that just costs that much more money that I'm not making," she said.

She waited for a phone call and frequently check the app that would give her her results. Worrying about her health the whole time.

"Every little cough you just start, like wait, do I have this?" she said. "Is it just mild symptoms? I felt pretty good, but there were a couple of days that I didn't feel great and so I was stressed. That I was sick."

Phillips results eventually came back negative on July 13, 11 days after her test.

She's not alone in her wait.

The Oklahoma State Health Department said part of the delay is due to the outdated fax system that's also causing errors in reported case numbers.

READ MORE: OSDH: Old technology led to COVID-19 testing delays

The health department also said testing sites like urgent cares and pharmacies send their tests out of state and take several days to get back, typically by fax. The results then have to be manually entered, which can cause a delay.

The state said it's receiving funding from the CARES Act to modernize the system, which will improve testing result time and contact tracing. The state is also going to start sending text messages along with phone calls to improve contact tracing.

Meanwhile, Phillips said while she's in the clear now, she's going to be more careful where she goes.

"After that, I'm like, you know, it's just, I'm not going to do that anymore," she said. "I'm just going to stay in unless I have to be out which is just for work.

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