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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 15, 2022

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.

Oklahoma orders fewer monkeypox vaccines than any other state

Oklahoma has ordered fewer monkeypox vaccines than any other state, according to reporting from The Frontier.

Oklahoma has ordered just 24% of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccines offered by the federal government - enough to vaccinate about 1,800 people if the state follows new FDA emergency guidelines to stretch limited supply.

The state is currently only vaccinating people who have been exposed to monkeypox. Exposure includes prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone confirmed to have monkeypox or being at an event where the virus was present.

The state health department can still order more vaccines from the national stockpile if deemed necessary.

There have been 12 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the state and over 10,000 nationwide.

Stitt’s Secretary of Energy and Environment resigns

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Secretary of Energy and Environment has resigned.

According to a press release, Ken Wagner announced Friday he is stepping down from the position on Sept. 3 after serving nearly four years in the Stitt administration.

The former Environmental Protection Agency official played a key role in expanding the state's efforts to explore hydrogen's viability as a commercial fuel.

Stitt’s office plans to announce Wagner’s replacement on later today.

OKCPS deciding on historically large bond issue

Oklahoma City Public Schools is deciding on the largest bond issue in its history.

The Oklahoman reports the school board is taking up the issue today on whether to place the nearly $1 billion package before voters on Nov. 8.

The two propositions would build five new schools, a regional stadium, classroom expansions and renovations along with new school buses and vehicles.

The bond package which would increase property taxes for district residents would require 60% approval from voters to pass.

OU Health, UnitedHealthcare reach agreement on processing claims

OU Health and UnitedHealthcare have come to a resolution on processing claims.

The agreement between the two organizations for hospital and clinic facilities and services was terminated on May 1, but it has now been reinstated, according to a news release from OU Health.

The two organizations had been negotiating their contract since November 2021.

UHC has agreed to retroactively process out-of-network claims that are now considered in-network.

OU Health and UHC also agreed to re-engage transplant services to the level it was at before May 1.

The new agreement extends the provider’s contract through July 31, 2024.

USDA Livestock Forage Disaster Program

As many livestock producers in Oklahoma feel the devastating effects of drought, a USDA program could help provide some relief. 

As of this month, 64 of the state’s counties are eligible for drought recovery assistance through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. 

LFP provides payments to eligible livestock producers who have suffered losses, such as beef cattle, due to drought-ridden pasture. 

Breed stock producer Jordan Cook says it’ll cost more to feed her cattle through the winter.

“We’re trying to figure out what would be our best scenario going through this winter and this fall — how to get by without taking on a ton of debt. I mean, a load of feed can cost, probably eight to $9,000. So I mean, you can’t have that extra cost every month.” 

LFP only pays for a portion of drought-related damage, but Cook says the payment has gone a long way by helping her buy extra feed.

The deadline to apply for LFP assistance is Jan. 30, 2023. 

OU welcomes largest freshman class in history

The University of Oklahoma welcomed its largest freshman class in history on Friday.

According to a press release, the Class of 2026 with more than 4,700 students, also broke additional university records with a higher average GPA than any other incoming freshman class and more students identifying as underrepresented minorities than any other year.

Classes at OU begin on Aug. 22.

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