Norman’s IMMY Labs location will run out of state funding for free COVID-19 testing on Thursday, Norman Mayor Breea Clark said in Tuesday night’s Norman City Council special session.
IMMY Labs administered 32,000 COVID-19 tests as residents prepared for Thanksgiving break, Clark said. She said approximately $2 million is required to see Norman residents through December.
“What Jackie Kanak — Cleveland County Health Department’s regional director — informed us of was they simply cannot handle COVID-19 testing if IMMY is not here to help,” Clark said. “I plan to reach out to our partners at Cleveland County. … This is an excellent opportunity for our county partners to help us cover these expenses with CARES funding.”
City Manager Darrel Pyle said he contacted IMMY Labs four weeks ago regarding the possible exhaustion of state funding. IMMY Labs said Pyle should save public investments, as they thought they would receive another round of state funding.
Clark said IMMY Labs no longer plans on receiving funding. This change of plans is an example of the situation's fluidity, Pyle said.
“They burned through all of the additional funding in four weeks,” Pyle said. “Think about doing 32,000 tests in a week (as) everybody was preparing to go visit for Thanksgiving. We anticipate another big push before everybody goes to visit for the upcoming holiday.”
Ward 3 Councilmember Alison Petrone said she spoke with Richie Splitt, Norman Regional Health System’s president and CEO, who said they offer COVID-19 tests for $65. He said they would be willing to partner with the council to provide cheaper tests.
The current 7-day rolling average for COVID-19 cases in Norman is at 80 cases per day, according to the city's COVID-19 dashboard. Clark said she is anticipating a spike in positive cases after the holidays, and a lack of free testing is yet another piece of bad news for the city.
The council further discussed the logistics of a $1 million appropriation of CARES Act funding to small business and nonprofit relief grants.
Ward 1 Councilmember Kate Bierman said the application process should be transparent and impartial by not including the names of businesses or applicants. She called for weekly reports concerning the number of applications, what industries applied and where money is being distributed.
“We want to make sure that the nonprofit agencies are being included,” Bierman said. “I was hoping that veteran-owned businesses and women-owned businesses will be included and categorized as minority-owned.”