Around The County
PAWHUSKA CHAMBER GALA
Celebration will not be held this year
The annual Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce gala fundraiser, which had been scheduled for the spring of 2020, and which was rescheduled for Aug. 22 due to concerns about the novel coronavirus, will not be held this year.
The Chamber announced last Thursday that it plans to hold its next gala in March 2021. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Chamber at 918-287-1208.
OESC provides extension of benefit availability
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) has announced the State Extended Benefits (SEB) program, which provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants.
“This extraordinary time has triggered this benefit for the first time in almost 40 years,” said OESC Interim Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt. “The pandemic has caused continued unemployment for many Oklahomans above and beyond what is traditionally outlined by the Oklahoma Employment Security Act. We will continue to work with claimants to ensure they’re able to access benefits and answer any questions.”
In order for Oklahomans to receive these benefits, individuals must exhaust regular UI and the CARES Act extension PEUC benefits. In addition, SEB is only available for individuals who were eligible for regular UI claims. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants are not eligible for SEB.
“The State’s Unemployment Trust Fund, paid into by Oklahoma employers, pays benefits to individuals receiving regular UI benefits,” Zumwalt said. “Because of this, SEB will not be available for self-employed, contract, and gig workers utilizing the federally-funded PUA program.”
In most cases, unemployment claims will automatically change from PEUC to SEB. If a claim’s benefit year ends while receiving PEUC or SEB, a new regular UI claim must be established.
It should also be noted that SEB maximum entitlement is based on the lesser of three calculations so some individuals may not receive 13 weeks of benefits.
Assistance can be found at OESC’s 27 regional offices, which are continuing to see claimants in person — with masks required and social distancing in effect. Regional office staff also can assist claimants over the phone via their local office number. Please visit https://oesc.ok.gov/oesc-office-location-finder for all American Job Center locations in Oklahoma.
COVID-19 ALERT SYSTEM
State health department offers COVID-19 risk level tool
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) recently launched a new COVID-19 alert system that offers the public and local elected officials a clear method to recognize and communicate the current COVID-19 risk level in each county and to guide health behaviors.
The Oklahoma COVID-19 Alert System is a four-tiered risk measurement tool with corresponding color categories that identify the current COVID-19 risk level by county.
“This new COVID-19 alert system marries OSDH’s robust data reporting with additional public health steps that should be considered county by county to confront elevated risks of community spread,” said Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye, M.D. “The color-coded system is an easy way for business owners, local leaders, and the public to know at a glance when extra precautions should be taken.”
Each color category is based on daily new cases per 100,000 persons. The color-coded county map will be updated every Friday as part of the agency’s 11 a.m. Situation Media Advisory and will be based on the seven-day rolling average:
Green: 0 1.43 daily new cases per 100,000 persons;
Yellow: 43 14.39 daily new cases per 100,000 persons;
Orange: > 14.39 daily new cases per 100,000 persons;
Red: > 14.39 daily new cases per 100,000 persons, plus one of four additional gates triggered.
OSDH will deem a county as in a high-risk phase if the county is reporting more than 14.39 daily new cases per 100,000 and one or more of the four thresholds occur in the state within a given week.
Statewide ICU threshold: Percent of ICU beds available 5% statewide;
Statewide Medical/Surgical threshold: Percent of medical surgery beds available 5% statewide;
Statewide ventilator threshold: Percent of ventilators available 5% statewide;
Facility PPE threshold: Average days of PPE on hand and available 5 days statewide.
The state will work with local officials in red counties on a remediation plan.
The red phase is triggered when additionally assessing statewide health system capacity definitions, assumptions and plans in the Oklahoma Hospital Surge Planning Toolkit, and with assessing numbers based on hospitals’ bed capacity at 100%. This status indicates statewide, systemic challenges and pressures on the health care system resulting from COVID-19.
This new alert system is subject to further revisions. Guidance for each risk category is available for individuals, businesses, high-risk individuals, and children on the COVID-19 dashboard at coronavirus.health.ok.gov.
Annual Tulsa Rocketry event at Pawhuska delayed until 2021
High Frontier, the annual rocket launch event that Tulsa Rocketry holds in Pawhuska, has been postponed until the end of September 2021.
Tulsa Rocketry said it made the decision because it didn’t feel that it could hold the event and keep everyone safe. The event runs with the help of some very dedicated members of Tulsa Rocketry, some of whom are in at-risk categories and would not be able to help put this event on. Without their help, Tulsa Rocketry said it would be unable to properly staff the event and conduct it at the level everyone has come to expect.
“It is our hope that everything is back to normal in September of 2021 and we can resume High Frontier,” Tulsa Rocketry said. “Until then stay safe and come visit us at our monthly launch in Leonard.”