Statewide testing for COVID-19 has increased dramatically over the past two weeks and about 17% of samples are positive. Only five states have had a higher percentage of positive tests in the past seven days, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports that 63,831 tests were administered the week of August 29 to September 4 and 17,730 were positive for the virus.
OSDH shows that the number of tests rebounded to between 13,000 and 33,000 per week in July and August, then soared to over 60,000 in the past two weeks.
“Tests started going down in March, but six to eight weeks ago they started to rise again,” said Rachel Davidson, director of reference laboratory operations at the Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma.
An increase in testing has started in eastern Oklahoma, where the delta variant first arrived and spread across the state with the virus, Davidson said. People seeking the test may need it for travel or may have been exposed to an infected person, she said.
DLO collects samples from people at its 44 patient service centers across the state and performs tests at its 13 laboratories. It is also partnering with CVS and Walmart Neighborhood Market pharmacies to collect samples. In most cases, there are no out-of-pocket expenses, said Jeff Knight, marketing director at DLO.
The labs can run 3,500 tests per day and currently have not exceeded capacity despite the increased volume, Knight said.
DLO offers PCR diagnostic testing and rapid antigen testing by appointment six days a week at its central lab and head office near Broadway Extension and Britton Road.
“It’s convenient. You don’t have to get out of your car. It takes five minutes,” Davidson said.
Diagnostic tests are available free to all Oklahomans and are essential to the ability to diagnose cases of COVID-19, the OSDH website says. It lists 140 sites across the state where people can be tested.
The week of July 4-10, only 10.8% of tests statewide returned positive. That climbed to 23.5% two weeks ago, OSDH reported.
The current daily average number of new cases is 2,416, the 11th highest per capita average in the United States
As testing increases, vaccination decreases. In the past week, an average of 10,800 doses per day have been administered across the state, down 20% from the previous week, according to the Washington post COVID-19 tracker.
While the CDC reports that more than half of the country is fully vaccinated, in Oklahoma it is 45%.
The tracker shows that the percentage of fully vaccinated county populations ranges from 22% in Dewey County to 52% in Caddo County. Oklahoma County comes in second with 51%, followed by Tulsa and Noble counties at 50%.
The OSDH report shows less than 1% of breakthrough cases – of people fully vaccinated but contracting the virus – for all three brands of vaccine. In the past 30 days, 94% of people hospitalized with the virus were not vaccinated and 6% were vaccinated.
Of Oklahoma’s 7,334 revolutionary cases, 441 required hospitalization and 86 died, according to the report.
A total of 9,415 Oklahoma residents have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 208 last week.