Oklahoma ScissorTales: Oklahomans chipping in where they can
During a telephone town hall this week, Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, noted that coronavirus testing will increase due to efforts by hospitals, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the state’s lab and “commercial labs in the state.”
Private industries, and individuals, are helping in other ways, too.
The Oklahoman had a story this week about a Midwest City woman, Tiffany Cunningham, who picked up sewing again to begin turning out safety masks to donate to nursing homes and hospitals. Candace Neely of Stroud is doing something similar. Other people are, too.
In Edmond, a company called Qualgen, which makes hormone replacement pellets, has begun making hand sanitizer. It will be available March 30.
Qualgen also is making and distributing saline, dextrose and common mix IV’s for hospitals and home health. “We are blessed to have two facilities and employees to make product in such a time of need,” company CEO Shaun Riney said.
A similar sentiment was shared by Erik Tekell, co-owner of Prairie Wolf Spirits in Guthrie. A master distiller who has a background as a biochemist, Tekell has been turning ethanol into hand sanitizer.
When The Oklahoman’s food editor, Dave Cathey, interviewed him recently, Tekell had produced about 5,000 gallons.
“This is really just about doing what we can do as individuals,” Tekell said. “… There is a huge need for it. We all just have to do what we can at a time like this.”
Many thanks to his company and all those others lending a hand.
Generous gifts to help those in need
Kudos to Chad Richison, founder and CEO of Paycom, for his generous help to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. Richison has pledged $2 million to the food bank, and says he’ll give more if needed. “We are all in this together, and together we will get through this,” he said. The food bank also announced that two anonymous donors had committed to matching $275,000 worth of donations. Food bank officials say cash donations are most helpful because they have slowed of late. Every dollar donated translates to roughly four meals. Oklahomans always respond when others are hurting. These are only some of the many examples of that during the COVID-19 pandemic.
REAL ID compliance is coming … eventually
The COVID-19 outbreak is giving Oklahoma more time to come into compliance with the REAL ID Act. Oklahoma is one of three states that have yet to comply with the law, passed in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks. The intention of the law is to make it more difficult for criminals to obtain fake ID cards. Our Legislature approved a bill in 2007 rejecting REAL ID, but repealed the law last year after the Department of Homeland Security withheld a deadline extension sought by the state. Gov. Kevin Stitt had been aiming for compliance by an October deadline. But this week, citing the coronavirus, President Trump said he is pushing the deadline back. He didn’t provide a new deadline. When the dust settles from this health crisis, Oklahoma agencies need to get back to work bringing the state into compliance.
Fight coronavirus through ... election reform?
A coronavirus relief bill finally received final approval in Congress on Friday. It was thought the bill would be passed much sooner, but one version was panned by progressive Democrats as being, among other things, too kind to larger businesses and the wealthy. That led to a stalemate and a laundry list of Democratic wants that had or nothing to do with addressing the pandemic. Among them: election reform, a mandate that airlines offset their carbon emissions, broader collective bargaining powers for unions, expansion of tax credits for wind and solar energy, and a requirement that recipients of loans included in the bill provide a $15 minimum wage. Former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famously said during the 2008 financial collapse that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Some congressional Democrats, it seems, still feel the same way.