We’re living in a very different world than we were last month or even last week when I wrote my previous article.
COVID-19 is a very real, very significant challenge that calls for an unprecedented response. We must be prepared, but we must not panic. The focus is on slowing the virus so that health care facilities are not overwhelmed, as we are seeing in Italy right now. By focusing our efforts and staying calm, we will get through this.
Earlier this week, the House met in a joint bipartisan caucus to discuss the impact of COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus. We heard from Dr. Gary Cox, the Commissioner of Health, and were able to ask questions directly to better understand what impact coronavirus may have within our communities. After the joint caucus meeting, legislative leadership announced that during this pandemic, the Capitol would be closed to members of the public. Only elected officials, Capitol employees, and members of the media will be allowed in the building for the foreseeable future to help reduce crowd sizes and slow potential community spread.
At this time, the House of Representatives is adjourned to the call of the chair and there will be no session next week. Members will work from each of our districts next week handling constituent requests and inquiries as well as working on policy priorities for when we return back to session. We are open to delaying session a few weeks to slow community spread if needed. The Legislature is considering the situation seriously in part because we regularly gather together 147 people in one building who then travel to every corner of Oklahoma. We want to ensure a member does not unknowingly become infected and bring COVID-19 back into their hometown, because unfortunately that is a very real possibility.
If we do have to alter our regular session schedule in any way, it’s important to remember that the primary duty and only constitution requirement of the Legislature is to develop a balanced state budget that supports state services provided through our state agencies. As elected officials, we are going to do the best we can for the people of the state. Committee meetings and floor sessions will still be available for livestreaming online, and legislation will still be made publicly available.
The COVID-19 situation is evolving daily so please follow me on Facebook for continuous updates. It’s important that if you feel sick, you should call your primary care physician or the Oklahoma COVID-19 call center at 877-215-8336. Please visit Oklahoma’s new website link at https://covidresources.ok.gov/ for all COVID-19 related state health dept. updates, information for unemployment, options for small business owners, social services and more. If you are interested in ways you can plug in and help during this pandemic, please visit www.BeANeighbor.org for details.
We are currently experiencing a very difficult time in our state and our nation with the COVID-19 pandemic, but as Oklahomans we are resilient people. I know we will unite together and overcome this just as we have many other previous challenges we’ve faced in our state’s history. I want to ask you to join me in prayer for our healthcare workers who are on the front lines working long hours serving others while risking their own health, as well as for God’s healing and protection for our state and our nation from this COVID-19 pandemic.
I want to share with you one of my favorite scriptures from the Bible that I hope gives you encouragement today. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Thank you for allowing me to represent you and District 51 at the State Capitol. Reach out to my office with any questions or concerns. God bless!
Below are some pictures of this past week that I want to share with you: