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AM NewsBrief: Sept. 16, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.

AG joins push to designate fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction

Oklahoma’s attorney general is joining a push to designate fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction. The policy would allow more federal agencies to stymie the opioid’s presence in the country.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin, and that potency contributes to its lethality. It was created as a way to treat pain, like morphine and oxycodone, but like other opioids is addictive and has become a leading cause of overdose deaths. Drugs like cocaine and counterfeit OxyContin can be clandestinely laced with fentanyl, which has also been contributing to a spike in overdose deaths.

Attorneys General across the country, including John O’Connor in Oklahoma, are calling for the drug to be labeled a weapon of mass destruction, which would allow more agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security to contribute to efforts to curb its distribution.

Federal defense officials have endorsed the proposal, saying the drug could be used as a chemical weapon.

COVID update

Thirty-nine more COVID-19 fatalities bring Oklahoma’s Provisional Death Count to 16, 798.

In its weekly update, the State Department of Health reported more than 6,800 new positive tests for the Coronavirus since Sept. 8.

The number of active cases has dropped to fewer than 14,000.

The agency also reports 292 COVID-19 patients in Oklahoma hospital beds including 59 in intensive care and 27 children.

Part of I-35 to close this weekend for construction

Prepare for traffic headaches this weekend as Southbound I-35 will be completely shut down for road work between I-40 and I-44.

The closure will begin tonight and continue to Monday morning. Motorists are advised to adjust weekend plans now to prepare for a complete closure of I-35. All southbound lanes will close as crews do paving work.

Northbound lanes will stay open but they’ll completely close in two weekends on Sept. 30.

More DNA sought from remains of possible massacre victims

Scientists seeking to identify victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre are planning to extract more DNA from recently reburied remains and test more areas as potential sites to search for additional bodies.

The Associated Press reports remains found and exhumed from Oaklawn Cemetery last year and temporarily reburied there will be exhumed again for additional DNA samples. In addition, more graves in the cemetery will also be excavated.

Scientists hope to continue the search this fall.

A search for the graves of massacre victims began in 2020 and resumed last year with nearly three dozen coffins recovered that contained the remains of possible victims. None of the remains recovered thus far are confirmed as victims of the massacre.

Heart health grants

Over $2 million will go toward studying heart health in Oklahoma over the next four years.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Kenneth Humphries received two National Institutes of Health grants to study heart metabolism.

One grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will be used to study diabetic cardiomyopathy, which is a condition that can develop as a result of a diabetic person’s heart only being able to metabolize fat, not glucose. It affects the heart’s pumping function and can lead to heart failure.

Another grant from the National Institute on Aging will be used to study how aging affects the heart and why certain parts of cells decline over time, leading to loss of heart function.

Childcare start-up grants

Oklahoma plans to offer start-up grants to ease the shortage of childcare across the state.

The Tulsa World reports the Department of Human Services will provide up to $10,000 per child for new day care centers in “childcare deserts”.

The money is going to 34 counties where there aren’t enough licensed providers to meet the needs of working families.

Applications can be found at OKChildCareGrants.com, and officials say funds will be available until depleted or until July 31 of next year.

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