Oklahoma Is Finally Getting A New Public Health Lab

Gov. Kevin Stitt announces the lab will relocate to Stillwater, away from state health facilities in Oklahoma City

During a press conference about a new pandemic response initiative, Gov. kevin Stitt announced his administration’s plan to move the state’s public health lab to Stillwater. The lab has several functions, the most visible of which has been processing coronavirus tests. In normal times, it processes several kinds of specimens, including disease screenings for all of Oklahoma’s newborns.

Like much of Oklahoma’s public health infrastructure, the Public Health Laboratory is in disrepair, and it has been for years. At one point, it was in danger of losing its accreditation from the College of American Pathologists, which would force it to close immediately.

The Legislature authorized more than $50 million in bonds to replace the lab a few years ago, and Stitt said the state would also use some federal coronavirus relief funding for it.

The announcement the lab would be in Stillwater came as a surprise. No past plans have involved moving the lab and its workforce away from the state department of health’s headquarters or the biomedical hub in Oklahoma City. The Stitt administration said the move would strengthen the state’s rural health capacity.