We are beginning to see the effects of social distancing in Oklahoma. Our projected peak for number of people hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus has been pushed back to April 30. The number of projected cases during peak time has also decreased. This means that we are succeeding in flattening the curve. The Governor is working on a plan to reopen non-essential businesses and get people back to work.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please get tested at your local county health department. Curbside testing is available through the Payne County Health Dept., which has locations in Stillwater and Cushing by appointment only. For more information about testing or to schedule an appointment, you can call the Cushing office at (918) 225-3377 or the Stillwater office at (405) 372-8200.
Individuals 18 years and older who are experiencing a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough or shortness of breath can contact health department officials to reserve an appointment to be tested. Testing is free and doesn’t require health insurance.
Additionally, if you need more information about local testing sites or need help finding resources for food or other assistance, you can call 211 and someone will help answer your questions.
On another note, Americans have begun receiving their stimulus checks from the federal government, but watch out for scammers. To help protect against potential fraud, the IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, texts or social media. If you receive a request for personal or financial information, it may be a scam.
The U.S. Dept. of the Treasury and IRS launched the “Get My Payment” web application. This free app will allow taxpayers who filed their tax return in 2018 or 2019 but did not provide their banking information on either return to submit direct deposit information. Americans who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 can use www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enterpayment-info-here to submit basic personal information to quickly and securely receive their Economic Impact Payments.
The “Get My Payment” app also allows taxpayers to track the status of their payment. To do this, taxpayers will need t enter basic information such as their Soci Security number, date of birth and mailin address, in addition to their bank accoun info.
People who filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns with direct deposit information or receive Social Security don’t need to take action. They will automatically receive payment in their bank accounts.
With millions of Americans now at home because of COVID-19, many are picking up outdoor work projects. April is National Safe Digging Month, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is reminding Oklahomans that before starting any outdoor digging, you should dial 811 to find out what’s below the surface. This will ensure that you don’t accidentally hit buried pipeline or utility cables.
Taking the time to call 811 can avoid unnecessary accidents and prevent property damage. Even a shallow hole poses dangerous risks, as erosion, soil shifting, and other factors can change how close a line is to the surface.
Before I wrap up this update, I want to remind you about something that is critically important in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic: the 2020 census. Every 10 years, the census determines how much funding for services our state receives over the next decade. A high response rate that includes every Oklahoman will bring in more resources for District 33, which results in better schools and roads, among many other things.
For Oklahomans who are not counted, our state loses an estimated $1,675 per person per year. Over the next decade, that’s almost $17,000 lost money for every individual not counted in the census. Instead, that money will be appropriated to other states.
Oklahoma is lagging behind national response rates. The national response rate is 48.6%, and Oklahoma overall has a 43.6% response rate so far. As of April 13, Logan County had a 49.1% response rate and Payne County had a 45.1% response rate.
If you haven't completed your census yet, go to 2020census.gov or call 844- 330-2020 to complete it today! It’s a short process—it took my wife 5 minutes to fill it out.
Oklahoma has made great progress in our fight against COVID-19, but please continue to stay at home as much as possible and wash your hands often. If we all take precautionary measures, we can continue to slow the spread of the virus and protect our friends and family!
My office is more than willing to answer any questions or concerns you may have during this pandemic. You can reach me at (405) 557-7304 or email@example.com. Thank you for the opportunity to serve!