COVID-19 testing has become more widely available in Oklahoma in recent weeks, including in the Bryan County area where the first drive-thru testing location was established April 3 at the Choctaw Casino & Resort parking garage.


According to reports, a total of 35 people were tested for the virus. All tested negative.


In total as of April 10, in Bryan County just three cases of the coronavirus had been reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.


A total of nine people were tested at the Bryan County Health Department early last week, but as of press time the results of those tests were unavailable.


“I would like to think that this good news is because of the social distancing and stay at home practices,” Durant Mayor Oden Grube commented on social media. “Most of you citizens are to be commended for your cooperation during this trying time. However, we are not out of the woods yet. Please do not get complacent. Please continue to stay at home and practice social distancing if you must go out. If you do go out, please wear a mask. Hopefully we will soon be over the hump.”


With the addition of Durant, more than 60 COVID-19 drive-thru testing locations were available throughout Oklahoma as the Sooner State attempts to get caught up testing individuals after lagging behind other nearby states during the first few weeks of the pandemic.


Durant will continue to follow Gov. Kevin Stitt’s ‘shelter in place’ proclamation, which continues until April 30 in all 77 Oklahoma counties. Only essential businesses are slated to remain open through that time.


After a few complaints from citizens a week ago, the city also officially shutdown playgrounds and basketball courts at city parks that could potentially see groups of people numbering more than 10 gather closer than six feet apart.


The Choctaw Nation also made the decision late last week to extend pay and benefits to all employees through May 2.


Its statement read, “Please use this time for the intended purpose to follow public health guidance about staying at home as much as possible and practicing social distancing to safeguard your health and the health of others. If you are able to work from home, please continue to do so as you are supporting the continuity of tribal operations.


“We want to encourage our associates, tribal members and guests that the Choctaw Nation is actively preparing for a full return to operations. We continue to monitor the public health situation and receive guidance from leading health experts at the national, state and local level. We must balance health and safety with the tribe’s long-term financial sustainability and the economic needs of our tribal members, associates and communities.”


Green Spray Food Center also joined in helping those in need during the pandemic, announcing it would partner with Families Feeding Families to feed 60 families this week.


The store stated that $15 would provide about a week’s supply of food to a family in need. Donations can be sent via PayPal to angsullivan5@gmail.com.