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AM NewsBrief: Sept. 2, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

USDA designates nine Oklahoma counties as natural disaster areas

Farmers across nine Oklahoma counties are qualified to apply for emergency loans to help them recover from drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated nine counties in Oklahoma as a natural disaster area. That means the areas suffered from severe drought effects during the usual growing season. 

The nine counties include: Adair, Haskell, Muskogee, Cherokee, Latimer, Okfuskee, Delaware, McIntosh and Ottawa. 

Emergency loans through the federal agency can be used to help cover the costs of losses due to the drought, such as equipment items or livestock. The application deadline for farmers in these nine counties is April third of next year. 

The USDA encourages farmers to contact their county Farm Service Agency office to help them apply for emergency loans.

COVID boosters expected to be available Tuesday in Oklahoma

Oklahoma will soon have another COVID-19 booster shot to offer its residents.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have developed updated boosters of their original vaccines, intended to protect better against the omicron strains. Those variants are significantly more transmissible, and they make up the bulk of new cases.

The CDC gave final approval to the updated vaccines Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Oklahoma State Department of Health said the state was able to preorder doses. They should be available in Oklahoma Tuesday.

Immunity begins waning four to six months after a vaccine. Health officials recommend the booster for anyone who has gone that long since their last shot.

About 72% of Oklahomans have gotten at least one dose so far, according to state data, but only about 58% of the population is fully vaccinated. By age group, kids 5-11 are the least likely to be vaccinated, with about 14% having at least one dose.

COVID-19 update

Seventy-six more COVID-19 fatalities bring Oklahoma’s Provisional Death Count to 16, 720.

In its weekly update, the State Department of Health reports nearly 11,000 new positive tests for the Coronavirus since Aug. 25.

The number of active cases has increased to more than 17,000.

The agency also reports 361 COVID-19 patients in Oklahoma hospital beds including 89 in intensive care and 31 children.

Oklahoma City Council suspends sister city relationship with Ulyanovsk

Oklahoma City is suspending one of its sister city relationships.

The Oklahoma City Council voted to suspend its sister city relationship with Ulyanovsk, Russia in support of Ukraine.

Mayor David Holt says this decision follows a recommendation from Sister Cities OKC. Although Sister Cities International encourages the continuation of American-Russian relationships despite the invasion of Ukraine to maintain any positive connections, Holt says this situation is different.

"We have not had any municipal level contact with this city in at least 15 years, which is unique compared to our other sister cities."

The suspension is indefinite but comes with the possibility of reversal.

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