OKLAHOMA CITY (June 30, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt, joined with interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye, MD and Secretary of Science and Innovation Elizabeth Pollard, announced today three new CARES Act grants to support efforts through the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Stitt also announced his intent to file an executive order for OSDH to develop a color-coded alert system to notify citizens and local elected leaders of Oklahoma counties with growing levels of community spread, with additional public health recommendations associated with the color alerts.
“The Trump administration will soon be rolling out a color-coded system to help Americans make decisions based on the presence of COVID-19 in their counties,” said Gov. Stitt. “Oklahoma is going to support this effort, and I have instructed OSDH to review the White House’s material and further enhance this color-coded system to address our unique needs and pandemic experience in our state. We need Oklahomans to be vigilant and informed. Wear a mask when you cannot physically distance well; socialize outdoors; and wash your hands often. Personal responsibility is key to protecting the lives of your loved ones.”
“Tuesday’s spike will not be the last one we expect to see in the coming days. We asked Oklahomans to get tested before and after attending large scale events, and they have been active participants in our public health efforts by showing significant interest in our testing pods across the State,” said Commissioner Frye. “As COVID-19 positive cases have increased, 40% of them have been adults in the 18 to 35 age range who typically don’t have symptoms. Younger adults need to be especially careful as potential carriers of COVID-19. We need all Oklahomans to work together to protect the lives of older and more vulnerable loved ones as families come together over the holiday weekend.”
The three CARES Act grants announced today are as follows:
COVID-19 Testing and Monitoring Grant - $50 million
The $50 million grant will support OSDH’s three core components, 1) expanding testing capacity, 2) modernizing reporting systems, and 3) expanding contact tracing and case investigation. Roughly $35 million will go towards expanding the public’s access to testing and expand public health labs ability to more rapidly deliver results. At this funding level, OSDH will be able to independently sustain the State’s current testing goal of testing 100,000 individuals a month. The remaining $15 million will allow OSDH to digitize and modernize data entry systems in the State health department and across county offices. It will also support OSDH’s efforts to make contact tracing services more efficient through enhance technology platforms that have state-of-the-art security to protect individual’s personal information.
“The Stitt administration’s testing strategy will include more robust telemedicine capacities for Oklahomans living in rural communities and seeking COVID-19 screening and testing,” said Sec. Pollard. “Our greatest goal is to continue to position Oklahoma as national leaders on the latest testing capabilities and strategies. This will help us support children and teachers who are going back to the classroom and quickly deploy resources to support businesses in their reopening efforts.”
Mobile Health Units - $4.2 million
The CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund will be used to purchase mobile health units that will allow OSDH and county departments to make testing and screening of COVID-19 more accessible. The funding will purchase 9 trailers and 18 vans that are retrofitted to deliver core public health services, to include GPS and Wifi to be connected into TeleHealth systems to advance the delivery of quality health care in rural parts of the State. Each OSDH regional director will propose a plan for the placement of these mobile health devices. These plans will involve developing local partnerships with the education sector, private sector, and local community leaders on how best to deliver rapid, free COVID-19 services while the Oklahoma awaits a vaccine or treatment.
Long Term Care Facilities and Nursing Home Grants - $35 million
To complement the Stitt administration’s reopening plan of long-term care facilities and nursing homes, $35 million will go towards helping each facility increase infectious disease protocols as well as provide financial support for the purchasing of PPE, additional cleaning supplies, and telehealth medicine.
With these funds, each facility will be eligible for up to $15,000 specifically for contracting or employing a trained infection preventionist to craft a plan unique to each facility to minimize the presence of COVID-19 and to monitor for potential outbreaks.