By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
Flu season is in full swing and it will continue for several more weeks. Every year, millions of people in the United States get sick from the flu and other flu-related illnesses. The flu can turn into a serious illness resulting in hospitalization and even death if not properly treated. During the 2018-2019 season, 16.5 million people went to a doctor for the flu and more than 34,000 people died in the U.S. There are several things you can do to protect yourself and others.
The most important way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine, but unfortunately only 45 percent of adults get a flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals 6 months of age and older get vaccinated. It reduces the risk of getting sick from the flu and helps prevent other flu-related illnesses. People who are considered high risk, like young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, and people 65 or older, should especially make sure they get the vaccination to reduce their risk.
You should also take steps to stop the spread of germs during flu season. Stay home if you are sick and limit your contact with others as much as possible. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Make sure to wash your hands often, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and clean objects and surfaces that may have germs on them.
Nobody likes getting sick with the flu. These small actions that you can take every day will go a long way to help protect you and others from getting sick.
The following couples applied for marriage licenses at the LeFlore County Courthouse during the week of February 10-14, 2020:
Zackery Odell McGee and Amber Rose Grinstead
Caleb Grady Chitwood and Morgan Nicole Harmon
Nicholas Eric Knowles and Madison Leeann Transue
Michael Dean Coatney and Lori Ann Slocum
Erik Sawnee Sevenstar and Miranda Janae Vise
Jose Luis Nicolas Vasquez and Kristy Louise Kable
The following couples applied for their marriage licenses at the LeFlore County Court Clerk’s office during the week of February 3-7, 2020:
Steven Ray Haggard and Laujanna Kae Cole
Michael Wayne Eugene Sisco and Carmen Jessica Carlson
Donnie Leon Phillips and Lisa Ann Leming
Lane Allen Holt and Autumn Faith Lanell Benson
The Leflore County Court Clerk’s office issued marriage licenses to the following couples during the week of January 27-31, 2020:
Junior Lee Owens and Sheryl Ann Rodriguez
Brad Elijah Cooper and Mercedes Briann Brandy Ward
Parker Wesley Olive and Briannah Lynn
Joshur Wayne Pope and Sarah Geniece
Keith Baylen Wheeler and Kimberly Dawn Wann
Clinton Gene Elmore and Jennifer L. Killian
Austin Wade Johnson and Shayna Rose Cheesman
Gustavo Uriel Sanchez and Flor A. Diaz
By State Rep. Lundy Kiger
There are many public issues we need to review in LeFlore County to help improve our quality of life and create a safer future for everyone. To make real progress on any social issues, however, we must review these problems together, as a county of communities and professionals. No families are safe from any problems related to drug use, legal medication over use, alcoholism, teen pregnancy and especially with the mental health issues that follow or accompany many of these social problems.
The most calls I receive on a weekly basis are undoubtedly related to mental health. There are two concerns I have when someone calls with a family member needing an evaluation and treatment for mental health, and that’s the fact that the state is limited on available beds to take in new patients, and those who deal with mental health problems and break the law tend to be put in jail with little or no chance of receiving the needed treatment for their illness. In other words, they are put in jail where they waste away.
I’m currently working with over 30 people, agencies and health care professionals to develop a comprehensive list of options for anyone who experiences mental health issues that will destroy lives if not treated. This group of people also will include our law enforcement officials because they are one of the top groups hit with the responsibility of taking care of these patients despite law enforcement not being designed or structured to care for mental health patients.
At the end of February, we will develop a list of options and providers designed to help those who have or who don’t have insurance with the goal of getting anyone and everyone the help they need as quickly as possible.
In early March, we will have all of the information put on a one-page written form, and we’ll work to get this out to as many people as possible to help our county people to be better prepared if they have a loved one in need of treatment.
For the Children: A Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, CEO – OICA
Now that the 2020 session of the Oklahoma Legislature is underway, we have a better idea of measures we as child advocates must support and those about which we must be cautious.
Normally there are 149 lawmakers, 101 state representatives and 48 state senators. There are currently two vacancies, one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. The 147 left were busy, filing 2,243 new bills for this year. Combined with the those still alive from last year, lawmakers have more than 4,500 bills bouncing around the State Capitol that could be considered.
The good news is only a small number will make it to Governor Kevin Stitt’s desk to be signed into law or vetoed. Groups like the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy monitor these bills, providing insight to lawmakers as the bills work through the Legislature.
Several hundred child-related bills were filed. OICA will send out notices each Monday about which bills are coming up in committees during the week. If you want to get those notices, along with “action alerts” for high-priority bills, go to our website at www.oica.org and sign up for our newsletter. You will get legislative alerts and our weekly newsletter sent each Thursday at 2 p.m.
The issue of health care, which affects us all but especially children and seniors, will be a hot topic this year. Thousands of Oklahomans signed a petition saying they want to vote on Medicaid expansion for low-income Oklahomans. The governor proposed an alternative, signing on to a Trump Administration program to give block grants to states instead of the guaranteed coverage the initiative petition would create.
OICA will watch both proposals as one side waits for the governor to set a date for the election and the governor’s plan is considered by lawmakers. We hope to set up a forum for this discussion with experts who discuss both plans and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
The Oklahoma Municipal League’s Congress of Mayors met last week, passing resolutions on a pair of issues important to OICA. The first is on the upcoming census on April 1; mayors pledged to increase awareness on the census, to help ensure everyone is counted.
The mayors also voted to encourage state lawmakers to enact policies to reduce Adverse Childhood Experiences or “ACEs.” This reflects OICA strongest position as reducing ACEs is the best way to improve Oklahoma’s standing on child wellbeing; OICA is grateful for the mayors’ support.
Finally this week, thank you to Governor and First Lady Stitt for hosting a benefit dinner at the Governor’s Mansion for OICA’s efforts. Each year, OICA auctions “Dinner with the First Family” at our Heroes Ball. Tom Rosser was the winning bidder and we are grateful for his generosity. It was an enjoyable evening with conversation about issues important to Oklahomans.
This year’s Heroes Ball is July 31. Mark your calendar as this is one of the best events supporting Oklahoma’s children; we would love for you to join us as we all work to make our state a better place for children and families.
About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”
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The LeFlore County Court Clerk’s office issued marriage licenses to the following couples during the week of January 20-24, 2020:
Darrin Shane Pitman and Jennifer Gail Daugherty
Curtis Dwain Martin and Stacy Lynn Bailey
Ellis Edwin Johnston and Debra Kay Jenkins
Colby Ty McGee and Goldie Taylor Osburn
Oklahoma earns D in Smokefree Air, Lung Association calls on state officials to pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree law.
OKLAHOMA CITY - [EMBARGOED UNTIL: 11:01 p.m. CST, January 28, 2020] – Today, the American Lung Association released the 18th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, which finds that in 2019 Oklahoma earned failing grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes. The American Lung Association finds opportunities in 2020 for Oklahoma officials to take action and pass a comprehensive smokefree law in order to support public health and save lives in 2020.
The need for Oklahoma to take action to protect youth from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is more urgent than ever, with the youth vaping epidemic continuing its alarming rise to 27.5% or more than one in four high school students. This is a staggering 135% increase in high school e-cigarette use in just the past two years, and close to three million more kids started vaping in that time period, setting them up for a lifetime of addiction.
“In Oklahoma, our tobacco use rates remain at 28.6%. Sadly, with the youth vaping epidemic still rising, we may have lost an opportunity to make the current generation of kids the first tobacco-free generation. Tobacco use is a serious addiction and Oklahoma needs to implement the proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use outlined in ‘State of Tobacco Control’,” said JoAnna Strother, advocacy senior director for the Lung Association.
The 18th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that elected officials should do more to save lives and ensure all Oklahoma residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
• Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade D
• Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade D
• Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade D
• Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade D
• Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
The American Lung Association encourages Oklahoma to put in place all the public policies called for in “State of Tobacco Control,” and in particular, this year’s report noted the need to focus on passing a comprehensive smokefree law. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. If Oklahoma passed a comprehensive smokefree law that eliminates smoking in all public places and workplaces, including restaurants, bars and casinos, workers across the state would be protected from deadly secondhand smoke. E-cigarettes should also be included in comprehensive smokefree laws. This health protection would benefit everyone and is especially critical for those who work in the service and manufacturing sectors who are often exposed to secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol daily. “Opportunities for better health begin where people work, live and play, and a person should not have to be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke so that they could afford to put food on the table,” said Strother.
One powerful tool to address the youth vaping epidemic is increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. The U.S. Congress finished off 2019 with a huge victory passing a federal law to increase the national tobacco sales age to 21. This law will ensure that all states have a sales age of 21 in 2020. Virtually all adult smokers had their first cigarette before age 21, and most before the age of 18.
However, Congress failed to pass legislation to eliminate all flavored tobacco products, making the need for state action to end the sale of all flavored products critical. Massachusetts took that historic step by prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes in November 2019, becoming the first such state to do so. The Lung Association urges more states to follow Massachusetts’ lead and pass comprehensive laws eliminating flavored tobacco products in 2020.
The question remains, will 2020 be the year that public health is prioritized over tobacco product manufacturers so that another generation is spared the addiction to dangerous tobacco products? As the result of successful lawsuits filed by the American Lung Association and several public health partners, FDA will be required to take several important and long overdue actions to protect the public health from tobacco products in 2020. These include finalizing graphic warning labels on all cigarette packs by March 15, and requiring all e-cigarette, and most cigar, hookah, pipe and other manufacturers of deemed products to submit applications to FDA by May 12, 2020 to remain on the market in the U.S.
For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at or 312-445-2501.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
American Lung Association
1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) Lung.org