To better keep you informed, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is planning a telephone town hall for April 1, with hopefully other calls to follow each week.
The telephone town hall will allow Oklahomans to hear from health care professionals, government leaders, and other experts about COVID-19, the U.S. Census, and critical government services. Those on the call will have the ability to ask questions.
If you would like to register for the calls, please go to oica.org and sign up. There will be a limited number of people who can be on the call due to financial realities, so sign up soon.
We are in the midst of a crisis Americans have not faced in more than three generations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe in recent history. About 500 million people – or a third of the world’s population at the time – became infected. The death toll was staggering – 50 million worldwide, with 675,000 in the United States.
With no vaccine to protect against influenza and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections associated with it, control efforts were limited to interventions like isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings – which was what finally brought the pandemic to an end.
Those same common-sense suggestions are what health care professionals recommend today since we have no vaccine for COVID-19. Testing is underway on existing medications in hopes they might help; some of that research is happening here at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
Until effective therapies and medications are discovered and mass-produced, Americans need to use the interventions mentioned above. The more you are around people, the greater your chance to become infected. If everyone would limit interaction for just one month, COVID-19 would be constrained.
OICA extends a special thanks to health care providers, grocery store employees, law enforcement, emergency personnel, and those in jobs that place them in the public. We appreciate you for doing what is needed to help others while placing yourself at risk.
Also, do not let you or your neighbors get cheated in this time. In 2013, Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, and I wrote the law creating penalties for price-gouging during emergencies. The law includes a $1,000 fine per violation for price gougers in a disaster area. All of Oklahoma is in this situation so report price gouging or scams to the Oklahoma attorney general’s Consumer Protection Unit at 405-521-3921 or fill out an online complaint form at oag.ok.gov.
Finally, OICA wishes to apologize for a mistaken citation of law in a recent action alert about a meeting of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA). OHCA held a virtual public hearing on the governor’s Medicaid expansion proposal. The meeting was announced at about 9 a.m. and was held at 3 p.m. that same day. The day before, the Legislature expedited a law to modify the Open Meetings Act to forego posting of public meeting notices during this current state of emergency. We apologize for mistakenly connecting the two together.
Even so, OICA has serious concerns that any state agency would not provide sufficient notice for public comment regarding any policy change, especially one this significant. OICA will continue to monitor this discussion and keep you informed.