Oklahoma lawmakers speak about veteran center coronavirus outbreak

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 6:47 PM CST
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - 27 veterans have died of coronavirus at the Ardmore Veterans Center since December 11. As of Thursday, 51 residents are currently infected with the virus, and nine of those residents are in the hospital. 29 residents have recovered from the virus.

On Thursday, Oklahoma state representative Tammy Townley, state senator Frank Simpson, and Veteran Affairs executive director Joel Kintsel held a meeting at the Ardmore Convention Center to answer questions about the center.

Local veteran Todd Larkin said lawmakers are taking too long to fix the problem.

“These are 27 men who’ve showed up in our most deadliest wars,” Larkin said. “Only to come home and die in a facility run by the very organizations supposed to take care of us after we come home.”

Larkin went on to ask why inmates at an Oklahoma prison have been authorized to receive COVID-19 vaccinations before the veterans.

“Men that have murdered and raped people of Oklahoma are getting vaccines before the heroes of this state,” Larkin said.

Simpson said that’s because the Ardmore Veterans Center is run by the federal government, who contracted CVS to give vaccines to the veterans.

In a statement, CVS said “We are working with the state to reallocate vaccine supply in order for the National Guard to vaccinate those who have given so much in service to our country.”

State prisons are run by the state, not the federal government, so the state is responsible for the inmate’s health. That’s why the Oklahoma State Department of Health was able to get the inmates vaccines before the veterans.

“The idea that we’re just sitting around not doing anything is not true,” Kintsel said.

Representative Tammy Townley told KXII after the meeting Thursday that OSDH announced that the Carter County Health Department will be able to vaccinate eligible veterans on Saturday.

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