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News Brief: Week of Aug. 16-22


Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention was hosted virtually last week, concluding with Joe Biden officially accepting his nomination as the party’s presidential candidate.

Over four days of speeches via Zoom, several Democratic leaders endorsed Biden for president. Notable speakers included Barack and Michelle Obama, Jimmy Carter, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Jill Biden. In addition, supporters spoke in favor of Biden, such as 13-year-old Braydon Harrington, who said Biden helped him to accept and work through his stutter.

“[Biden] told me that we were members of the same club. We stutter,” Harrington said.

On Thursday, Aug. 20, Biden accepted his nomination with a speech, saying the country can “overcome this season of darkness in America” by voting for him.

“This campaign isn’t just about winning votes,” Biden said. “It’s about winning the heart and, yes, the soul of America. Winning it for the generous among us, not the selfish. Winning it for workers who keep this country going, not just the privileged few at the top.”

The Republican National Convention will begin on Monday, Aug. 24. President Donald Trump will accept his nomination at the White House on Thursday, Aug. 27. The convention will be primarily virtual.

California wildfires

Wildfires have returned to California, leaving over 1 million acres burned as they continue to spread across the state.

Lightning strikes caused the wildfires on Friday, Aug. 21, and the spread has proved the fires to be some of the most destructive in California’s history. There were approximately 12,000 lightning strikes that started 585 fires in the state over the past week. 

Over 12,000 firefighters are currently fighting the flames. At least four people have died and 100,000 people are under evacuation orders.

President Donald Trump has declared a presidential major disaster declaration due to the fires burning in northern California. Federal aid has been released to supplement recovery efforts in areas affected by the wildfires.


White House officials recommend measures to prevent spread of COVID-19

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended that Oklahoma close all bars and implement a statewide mask mandate after declaring the state a red zone.

The report, which was released to the public through the Center for Public Integrity, indicates Oklahoma is in the “red zone,” a designation for states with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people. In addition, the state ranks 15th in the nation for case counts. 

This follows White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx’s visit on Sunday, Aug. 16. She discussed the state’s coronavirus response with Gov. Kevin Stitt and other state officials. While attendees said Birx did not make any recommendations for Oklahoma, the report offers a conflicting recommendation.

Additionally, data from a recent report by The Oklahoman indicates cities with mask mandates have improved their case counts over three weeks. 

According to the report, the rolling average of new COVID-19 cases in cities with mask ordinances was 457. Three weeks later, the number had dropped 47% to 233, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

G.W. Exotic Animal Park to close

The Oklahoma zoo made famous by Netflix’s “Tiger King” is closed following an animal mistreatment investigation.

The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park closed to the public after the U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended the exhibitor license for owner Jeff Lowe on Monday, Aug. 17. The investigation and suspension were prompted by a report which documented pictures of animal mistreatment.

Lowe said he plans to open a new private zoo which will be used for filming for cable and streaming services.

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