A coronavirus test for Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was turned around in a fraction of time health officials say it generally takes to conduct the testing process on the public.
The same appears to be true of the 58 specimens subsequently taken after Gobert was determined to test positive for COVID-19 minutes before tipoff Wednesday evening with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
However, Jamie Dukes, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said state residents weren’t waiting for test results as the Jazz situation rapidly unfolded.
“This testing was done without disruption to testing Oklahoma patient samples,” Dukes said in an email Friday afternoon.
Dukes hadn’t responded to follow-up questions from a Tulsa World reporter as of Friday evening.
In her original email, Dukes noted that limited supplies provided to the state required a screening and prioritization process to triage the individuals with highest exposure first.
“The investigation involving the Utah Jazz team was a unique incident where we had a group of individuals that had extensive, close personal contact with each other, including contact to a presumptive positive case of novel coronavirus,” she wrote.
Health officials in Oklahoma have advised that it typically takes 24 to 72 hours to take a sample, test it and obtain results.
Gary Cox, Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health, in a Thursday news conference applauded the efficient and swift collection and testing process — in hours, not days.
“The Oklahoma State Department of Health Public Health Laboratory received a specimen for testing yesterday — Wednesday afternoon — related to a Utah Jazz player who was in Oklahoma City,” Cox told reporters. “We quickly received a presumptive positive test result at about 6:45 last evening, just a few minutes before the game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.”
Cox then said a team of nurses, epidemiologists and physicians worked with game officials to test all the Jazz players, as well as team personnel, Utah-area journalists and other staff.
“Fifty-eight specimens were collected and tested overnight, and we got the results very early this morning,” Cox said Thursday.
On March 6, when state and local officials announced Oklahoma’s first positive COVID-19 case in Tulsa County, Cox said the state’s testing capacity should allow for turnaround times of “just a matter of six or eight hours.”
However, other health officials still cited the 24- to 72-hour time frame.
Dukes on Wednesday said testing could take less time, but generally it will be 24 to 72 hours, given the time needed to take a specimen, ship it to the lab and then test it. She said the state was doing tests in groups, waiting until a set time for couriers to deliver specimens before testing the latest batch on hand.
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