Hospital urges locals to COVID test elsewhere

by Jordan Green

Hospitals across the region are urging people who need to be tested for the coronavirus to find other testing locations. In a letter to the community on Jan. 13, Stillwater Medical Center – Blackwell officials asked people to seek testing at other medical facilities.

The letter came as coronavirus cases across the nation continue to increase. “Our hospital and nation are in unprecedented times,” officials said. “We are seeing a large increase in COVID cases.

Our nation is also experiencing a healthcare staffing crisis, and our small hospital is no exception. Our staff is running on all cylinders and doing a great job taking care of our patients, many that might be other- wise transferred to another facility.” The Kay County Health Department is among local facilities offering testing. To schedule a testing appointment, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s website, www.

Those needing more information can call the health department at 580-762-1641. Hospital officials also encourage residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“Stillwater Medical – Blackwell is pleading with our community members to help reduce the rapid spread of COVID and help alleviate the strain on all healthcare systems,” officials said.


Oklahoma had more than 110,000 active coronavirus cases as of Monday, state health officials said. The state has had nearly 840,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. Statewide, 12,775 people have died from the virus. State officials reported Jan. 10 that 2,136,086 Oklahomans, about 58% of the state’s eligible population, were fully vaccinated. More than 686,000 Oklahomans have taken a booster dose.

Kay County has had more than 8,000 cases of the coronavirus since March 2020.

Blackwell has had 1,180 cases, with 1,082 recoveries and 41 deaths. The city has 57 active cases. Braman has had 57 cases, six of which are active. Kaw City has had 121 cases.

Newkirk has had 779 cases, with 721 recoveries and nine deaths. Ponca City has had 6,644 cases, with 6,092 recoveries and 115 deaths. Tonkawa has had 660 cases, with 596 recoveries and 18 deaths.

The state health department does not provide data on coronavirus cases in some of the state’s smallest towns, including Nardin in Kay County. Vaccinations are available for free at some pharmacies and stores across the county, among other locations. For more information on vaccinations, or to schedule a vaccine appointment, visit vid19/vaccine-information/ vaccine-faqs.html.


Ponca City Public School students were at three school sites were sent home Jan. 13 as the number of coronavirus cases in the district rose, officials said. Students switched to distance learning through Tuesday. On Friday, more than 140 staff members were out sick, officials said. Officials said Monday they were already learning that more students had tested positive over the weekend.

“As you know, county cases are extremely high,” Ponca City Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Arrott said. “With so many positive cases, the Omicron variant is expected to peak as early as late this week, which means this week will likely be a struggle for us.” The news came days after a Blackwell High School basketball game against Pawhuska was canceled


In other coronavirus news, insurance providers are now required to cover the cost of at-home, over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, the Oklahoma Insurance Department announced Jan. 14. “This coverage must be provided without imposing any cost-sharing requirements, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements,” Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready said in a news release.

“Plans and issuers are strongly encouraged to provide direct coverage for the OTC tests through preferred pharmacies, retailers, or other entities with no out of-pocket cost to prevent consumers from needing to submit a claim for reimbursement.” The change was handed down by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services.