Some Oklahomans who lost wages due to the coronavirus pandemic will receive a one-time payment of $400 from the state starting next week, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Director Shelley Zumwalt said Thursday.
The OESC has received permission from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to distribute Lost Wage Assistance funds. The payment will go to those who received $100 in benefits from any claim type and certified their employment was affected by COVID-19 during the week of Sept. 6-12.
“The agency will be making one-time, $400 payments, to over 120,000 Oklahomans,” starting next week, Zumwalt said during a news conference with Gov. Kevin Stitt.
The state expects to receive 166,000 initial doses of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of this month, said Stitt, who announced further restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
The restrictions include limits on attendance at indoor youth sporting events and public gatherings, except churches, and extending requirements that bars and restaurants space tables at least six-feet apart and stop indoor service at 11 p.m.
Stitt said the restrictions are based on federal Centers for Disease Control findings that those venues where the virus is most likely to be spread.
“What makes (those events) great is also what makes them a little more risky,” Stitt said. “They take us out of our bubble and bring people together who aren’t normally together, that increases the potential for the virus to spread.”
Stitt said he is also extending a requirement that masks be worn in state buildings.
AIRPORT COVID TESTING
Tulsa International Airport announced Thursday it will begin offering COVID-19 testing for current and recent airline passengers.
The airport board approved testing at a terminal beginning Jan. 4 for people who are flying or have flown in the previous three days.
Test cost will range from $70 for the rapid antigen test to $185 for a complete respiratory test.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Thursday reported 2,460 new confirmed cases of the virus and 35 more deaths for totals of 225,453 cases and 1,980 deaths since the pandemic began.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases in Oklahoma has again dropped below 3,000, falling from 3,273.8 per day on Nov. 25 to 2,950.3 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The rolling averages of daily deaths and the positivity rate have increased, with deaths rising from 15.7 to 19 per day. The positivity rate has risen from nearly 14% to just above 15% during the same time period.
The true number of infections in Oklahoma is likely higher because many haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
Source: Associated Press – Ken Miller