Like many of you, I was both shocked and saddened by the news that dozens of Claremore Veterans Center residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in July, and I send my deepest condolences to the families of the 10 residents who also lost their battle to this virus.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, 52 residents and 21 employees from the center have tested positive. Joel Kintsel, executive director of the ODVA, said the outbreak likely happened when an asymptomatic employee unknowingly passed the virus on to a resident. Residents that tested positive are being cared for at the Oklahoma City VA hospital, Muskogee VA hospital and Claremore area hospitals. Residents will not be allowed to return to the center until they have tested negative for the virus at least once.
This outbreak has hit close to home for many of us, and I’m thankful for the ODVA and their quick action to handle this situation. Our veterans deserve the best treatment, care and respect. After all, it’s their sacrifices that have protected American’s rights to protest, wear a mask or not, and enjoy countless other freedoms. I think it’s often taken for granted by many in our country that we have the freedoms to participate in these activities because someone willingly put themselves in harm’s way to fight for our country and our constitution.
I’ll continue to monitor this situation and work with the appropriate outlets to ensure these residents receive the best care possible during these difficult times.
I’d also like to remind you all not to lose focus on the 2020 census. This once-in-a-decade population count is still ongoing and is vital to securing a brighter future for our state. Federal funding for important core services like schools, hospitals and roads is allocated based on the population data collected by the census. State legislative district lines and even legislative seats in Washington D.C. are also determined by our state’s population.
For every person not accurately counted for by the census, Oklahoma will lose nearly $17,000 in federal funding over the course of 10 years. When you take into consideration that Oklahoma’s census response rate was only 57.3 percent—ranking us 42nd in the nation—as of July 28, that’s a lot of federal funds we could be leaving on the table.
I encourage you to log on to www.2020census.gov and complete the questionnaire online, or call 844-330-2020 and answer it over the phone. Census takers will soon start in-person visits to households that have not completed the form, so if you’d like to avoid a knock at your door, please take the census soon.
Thank you for allowing me to be your voice at the State Capitol. If there’s something I can help you with, please feel free to reach out by calling 405-521-5555 or emailing Marty.Quinn@oksenate.gov.