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OU Health Services announces increased COVID-19 testing capacity as university investigates options

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Goddard Health Center March 31, 2020.

OU Health Services announced this week it would be expanding COVID-19 testing capacity due to a rise in demand and spiking cases across Norman. 

“We anticipate a high volume of calls this morning. We appreciate your patience as we assist each caller & increase our testing capacity. Thanks for trusting us with your healthcare,” OU Health Services tweeted Monday. 

In a Monday statement to the Daily, a university spokesperson said during the first week of classes, 79 antigen and 277 PCR tests were administered. 

OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler said before the fall semester, OU would not be offering free COVID-19 testing, as that cost would no longer be covered by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. President Joseph Harroz said in a Wednesday State of the University address if students can’t afford tests, they’re encouraged to use insurance to pay for it, but if they’re uninsured, administrators will ensure they have access to testing at no cost. 

Though the university hasn’t instituted a general mask mandate, on Aug. 31, it announced masks will be required for two weeks in classes where students test positive. Those classes will continue to meet in person. 

According to OU’s COVID-19 Dashboard, the percentage of positive test results more than doubled between Aug. 17-24, rising from 13.95 percent to 30.23 percent but dropped to 23.33 percent between August 24-31.

The Norman COVID-19 Data Dashboard reports 530 new cases between Aug. 25 and Sep. 1. COVID ActNow’s website indicates Oklahoma has a 17.3 percent positive test rate, and Cleveland County has a 14.2 percent test positive test rate. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 1,734,367 Oklahomans have been fully vaccinated and 2,109,416 Oklahomans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

"Prior to the surge in the delta variant, we made a conscious effort to move as many resources as we could from testing, (and) we were focused on vaccines," Harroz said Wednesday. "Then the delta variant began to surge, and we realized we had to go back and increase testing."

Citlali Vazquez is a journalism junior and news reporter at The Daily.

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