TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation received a limited supply of rapid test kits for COVID-19, which will be used to provide results in just minutes for patients who are most critical.

With the new rapid tests, results can be returned in as little as 20 minutes.

“Having the capability to provide rapid testing for our patients means we can act even more expediciously to protect those who may be infected with COVID-19. That allows us to provide an extra layer of protection to our Cherokee citizens and our communities as a whole,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We will continue to look for new and innovative ways to address this virus and the impact it is having on our Cherokee communities. I am proud of our health care team for their committment to caring for our patients and stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

As of April 22, 54 patients within the Cherokee Nation health system have tested positive for COVID-19 and two have died. The state of Oklahoma has more than 2,894 total positive cases, including 170 deaths.

“We understand that waiting for test results can be a tense time for anyone, especially in our current climate; that’s why we are utilizing our existing supply of rapid tests for our most critically ill patients,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones. “Obtaining test kits and testing capabilities is a global challenge during this pandemic, but with our strong partnerships, we can meet the needs of our patients and provide them with answers as quick as possible.”

Cherokee Nation Health Services received 300 rapid tests from Abbott Laboratories, and will receive more rapid tests each week moving forward. The tribe also has more than 2,000 reference lab tests provided by Indian Health Service that typically take at least 24 hours for results.