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Senators Carri Hicks and Julia Kirt respond to new Oklahoma Pandemic Center announcement

State Senators Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, and Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, released the following statements in response to Gov. Stitt’s announcement of a new Oklahoma Pandemic Center to be built in Stillwater:

“Wednesday’s announcement to direct $25 million of federal CARES Act funds to construct a new lab facility has raised major concerns in my district, which is home to several major health systems and leading experts in the fields of medicine and science.

“I, along with Senator Kirt, stand with the professionals calling for a public health response that prioritizes the lives and livelihoods of Oklahomans. Our growing hospitalizations, death rates and community transmission call for an immediate response.” – Sen. Carri Hicks

“The state of our public health facilities cannot overshadow the human needs of this time. These one-time federal CARES Act funds should be used for their intended purpose–slowing the spread of COVID-19 through evidence-based practices and helping Oklahomans recover and rebuild immediately.

“After studying the conditions of our public infrastructure, I have no doubt that deferred maintenance has been a problem for the State Department of Health’s labs. The legislature has already dedicated funds for a new lab building.

“However, using federal CARES funding for an infrastructure problem caused by decades of neglect and that will take years to solve misses the needs of Oklahomans in this critical time.

“We are far from over this pandemic. We have individuals unable to take leave to quarantine for fear of losing their jobs. We have teachers who need protective equipment. We have businesses confused on how to keep their customers safe.

“Addressing these needs should be the highest priority of the State Department of Health. I join Senator Hicks in expressing concern over this announcement.” – Sen. Julia Kirt