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PM NewsBrief: Sept. 16, 2022

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

Oklahoma health officials are expanding eligibility for monkeypox vaccines

The State Department of Health is continuing its monkeypox vaccine rollout. It is already available to those who have possibly been exposed and to men who have sex with men. As for the new groups who qualify starting Monday, they include health workers who work in urgent care or emergency rooms, who screen for STIs, or work in labs that deal with monkeypox. It also includes anyone with HIV, sex workers, and women who have sex with men who also have sex with other men.

There have been outbreaks of monkeypox in the US in the past, and it usually presented similarly to smallpox. However, this recent outbreak has presented mostly as a sexually transmitted infection, appearing similar to herpes.

Officials in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 33 cases of the virus in Oklahoma as of Friday.

Unidentified human remains found in Logan County may be connected to white supremacist prison gangs

The Washington Post reports cut and burned human remains belonging to multiple people were found by law enforcement officers on a compound in Logan County in April.

Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux says he and his deputies suspect the Universal Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang, is connected to a string of disappearances from the Oklahoma City metro area and that some of the missing persons may be buried in the compound.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigations has not confirmed or commented on the possibility of gang involvement or the potential identities of those found in the compound.

The remains are in the process of being identified with the help of the families of the missing persons.

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.

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.

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