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Oklahoma ScissorTales: Keep nonprofit groups in mind

A patient is tested for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site in Houston. [AP Photo]
A patient is tested for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site in Houston. [AP Photo]

The coronavirus outbreak could not have struck at a worse time for Oklahoma’s nonprofits. The springtime calendar, usually filled with fundraisers that are vital to the charities’ budgets, has been decimated.

The Oklahoman’s Bill Crum touched on a few of these in a story this week. City Care’s “Transform the Night” event, which raised half a million dollars last year, is off. The Memorial Marathon has been pushed back from April to October. The enormously popular Festival of the Arts, held annually by Arts Council Oklahoma City, is canceled for just the second time in its 50-plus-year history (the other followed the Murrah Building bombing in 1995). The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools will hold its “All Hands Raised” event virtually.

The latter raised $101,000 in 2019, which CEO Mary Melon said is not a make-or-break amount but is still “a critical piece” and difficult to make up.

Marnie Taylor, head of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, said stock market losses could worry nonprofits, particularly as they relate to individual giving, but “I feel firmly we’ll get through this and we’re all going to get our feet under us.”

Rachel Freeman with City Care is taking an equally optimistic approach. “I am prayerful and expectant we will rise to the occasion with resilience and grit, same as we always have,” Freeman said.

Our local nonprofits do great and important work. If you can, lend a hand.

A reminder about potential COVID-19 treatment

At a news conference Wednesday, officials and physicians at Integris Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City noted their emergency room was overrun with patients amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Other hospitals are surely experiencing the same. What health experts have been saying from the outset bears repeating: If you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, call your doctor, the COVID-19 hotline (877-215-8336) or 211. Going to an emergency room is not recommended. Said Integris CEO Tim Pehrson, “If you get sick, what do you do? You stay at home.” If a person believes they need more care, they should pick up the phone. Only if they believe they’re having more serious symptoms should they go to the ER. “But if everybody rushes to the emergency room because they are sick or they’re scared, we’re going to have a problem,” Pehrson said. Dr. David Chansolme, head of infection prevention at Integris, added that testing won't end the pandemic. "What makes the epidemic go away is social distancing and hand washing," he said. Oklahomans should heed this advice.

Helping state inmates stay in touch

For now, inmates in Oklahoma’s prison system aren’t allowed visitors — the COVID-19 outbreak prompted the Department of Corrections to suspend visitation and volunteer access. But the DOC is providing inmates a chance to connect with loved ones through two free five-minute phone calls per week. Phone calls from prison aren’t cheap, and they can be a burden on families. This arrangement, reached with the telecommunications company GTL, will ease that burden for a time. The agreement runs through April 14. DOC says it’s also looking at other ways to provide communication between inmates and their families. Kudos.

Biden campaign drifts ever leftward

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s drift leftward continues apace. As a U.S. senator, Biden, like many Democrats, favored the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion. But he did a 180 soon after announcing his candidacy for president. Biden also joined the fold on issues such as energy and climate change. Prior to his debate Sunday with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden took another step, this time on education. After saying for months he wants to provide free tuition to students attending community colleges, Biden announced he would promote free tuition at public colleges and universities for students whose families make less than $125,000 annually. The Los Angeles Times called the proposal “an olive branch to the party’s left.” Yet another olive branch would have been a better description.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›