Sep. 16—Amid the rise in new COVID-19 cases, IMMY Labs will begin offering its free drive-thru testing again after discontinuing the testing program in July.
In partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, IMMY will deploy drive-thru testing sites throughout the Oklahoma City metro to make testing more efficient and accessible to Oklahomans, IMMY CEO Sean Bauman said.
The health department did not immediately respond to The Transcript's request for comment Thursday. Bauman said IMMY is sticking to its promise of returning test results within 24 hours. Testing will also be free due to the partnership with the health department.
"We're going to have multiple locations in the metro," Bauman said. "It'll be a drive-thru and people will go online to our website to make an appointment. It's super easy, and the tests will take 10 minutes max. You're not going to wait in line for a long time or anything to test, and then we will text or email your results."
IMMY is also starting drive-thru vaccination pods again, Bauman said.
"We're doing vaccine pods right now, and we're doing them in our parking lot in a drive-thru format, so it's pretty easy," he said. "You just make an appointment on our website and you pull in — we've got nurses there to give you shots and they'll observe you for the right amount of time afterwards, and then off you go."
The company's return to drive-thru testing and vaccinations comes as Norman and Cleveland County continue to experience high numbers of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
From Sept. 10-16, Norman Regional Health System reported an average of 58.3 COVID patients in its hospital at the end of each day, an increase from last week's report of 56.
During the same time period, NRHS also reported an average of 18 COVID patients in its ICU at the end of each day, an increase from last week's report of 16.
NRHS is also offering COVID testing at three of its locations, and is urging patients not to seek a COVID test at the emergency room. Patients can instead schedule a test at one of NRHS' three locations at the health system's website.
Bringing the testing back has been challenging, Bauman said, but it's necessary given current case trends.
"It would have been easier to keep it all going, but of course we didn't have foresight to know that we were going to have these (problems)," he said. "So, we're hiring people and we're busy getting supplies ready. So, lots and lots of things are moving in the background as I speak to make that happen."
Bauman also said IMMY is currently in the process of expanding its vaccination pods "into multiple sites across the metro in the drive-thru format, and also in an indoor-type thing like we've done in the past.
Reese Gorman covers politics and COVID-19 for The Transcript; reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @reeseg_3.