THUMBS DOWN

Thumbs down to Oklahoma for no longer requesting the weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force Report, despite being ranked No. 1 in test positivity and setting a state record for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has been at odds with the reports in the past.

Past reports have been critical of Oklahoma’s lack of COVID-19 restrictions and precautions and have advocated for Oklahoma to implement a statewide mask mandate, which Stitt has refused to do on multiple occasions. In the most recent report the state released on Dec. 9, the task force noted that “unlike other states in the Heartland, cases and new hospital admissions (in Oklahoma) are not plateauing.”

Meanwhile, Stitt is trying to attract visitors to our state as our COVID-19 cases surge. Tourism is great during normal times, but normal times are many months down the road.

THUMBS UP

Thumbs up to our state getting off to an “excellent start” with more than 30,000 people vaccinated.

Ultimately, our state will need about 70% of people to get vaccinated in order to obtain herd immunity — or community protection from the virus, said Dr. George Monks, president of Oklahoma State Medical Association.

Oklahoma’s vaccination system has at least a 24-hour lag time from when doses are given and when they appear in the state’s dashboard. Health officials can give other vaccines much faster, but they have to keep people who receive the COVID-19 shots there for at least 15 minutes to watch for any allergic reactions.

THUMBS UP

More thumbs up to Northern Oklahoma College for establishing a new wind turbine technician program in partnership with Oklahoma’s second-largest wind operator.

Thirteen students currently are enrolled in an introduction to wind energy course and other process technology courses as part of the program, pending accreditation from Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, and also will each receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Anticipated in 2021, students who complete the curriculum will earn an associate degree in process technology with a wind energy concentration. Graduates will be qualified for work as a wind turbine service technician, by far the fastest-growing occupation in Oklahoma with 64.5% projected growth from 2018-28.

This is a good example of a school moving to ride the wave of the future.

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