Health Department Screens for COVID-19

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

Stephens County Health Department performed 120 tests for the COVID-19 virus at a drive-through testing event at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center on Tuesday from 10am until 2pm. There was no charge for the testing and no doctor referral was necessary.

The morning began with cars lined up early, creating quite a wait for those who wanted to be screened and potentially tested. Stephens County Sheriff’s department provided traffic control throughout the event and coordinated with the Duncan Fire department and fairgrounds staff.

By afternoon, there was little to no wait to be screened and the process would take approximately 15 minutes from entry to exit.

Upon arrival at the screening station, cars were stopped and a nurse employed by the Health Department would hold up a sign with a phone number on it that the driver should call in order to be screened. The nurse would then conduct the screening via telephone to limit contact with the car’s occupants and determine whether or not they were eligible for testing.

Eligibility requirements included being an Oklahoma resident over the age of 18; having one or more symptoms of COVID-19 (fever over 100.4, coughing, shortness of breath); or being in close contact with an individual who has been confirmed to have the virus.

Those who were eligible for testing were then provided with a document – placed under the windshield wiper – and sent to the barn where testing was conducted.

Prior to being tested, each individual was given a “code word” that would be used to identify them later when they were contacted with the results. “Everyone will get a phone call with results regardless of whether they test positive or not,” said Julie Williamson, Public Information Officer for the Health Department.

Williamson said that results would take 48-72 hours to come back. “Sometimes it’s a shorter amount of time but we don’t want to rush it,” she said. She also said that while awaiting test results, people should stay isolated.

“Even if their test is negative, everyone needs to continue to practice good hygiene and social distancing,” Williamson said. “It’s important to keep up with the CDC’s recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus.”

Some individuals came from other counties to be tested. Williamson said that if they test positive for COVID-19, it will be counted in the statistics for their county of residence.

Matt Byerly, Fairgrounds manager, confirmed that after Tuesday’s event, the barn where testing was conducted will be closed for two weeks.

The remainder of the tests that were made available to the Stephens County Health Department will be used for daily drive-through testing at the health department office. Tests will be conducted by appointment only from 2pm – 4pm weekdays.

Appointments can be made by contacting the Stephens County Health Department at 580-252-0270.