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News Brief: Week of Sept. 27 – Oct. 3


Trump tests positive for COVID-19

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19; he announced the news early in the morning on Friday, Oct. 2.

The news broke after Trump’s personal aide Hope Hicks tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, Oct. 2. She traveled with Trump earlier in the week.

Trump was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday, where he received a dose of Regeneron, an experimental drug cocktail shown to help coronavirus symptoms, and began remdesivir therapy.

According to a briefing by White House physicians on Sunday, Oct. 4, Trump’s blood oxygen levels dropped twice recently, but he has “continued to improve.”

Trump attended several events before testing positive, with these events believed to be potential spreaders of COVID-19.

At least eight people have tested positive for the coronavirus following an event celebrating Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Infected individuals include Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Thom Tillis, Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins and other Trump officials.

Trump also attended the presidential debate on Tuesday, Sept. 29, and fundraising events in the two days following. 

Both Vice President Mike Pence and Joe Biden have tested negative for COVID-19.

Presidential debate

The first presidential debate of the 2020 election was held on Tuesday, Sept. 28, allowing the two presidential candidates to finally engage in person after months of back-and-forth from a distance.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met for heated debate as they covered the coronavirus pandemic, racism and its tension, the Supreme Court and healthcare. 

Trump defended his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court despite the impending election, saying “I was not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years. We won the election. Elections have consequences.”

Biden criticized Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying “a lot of people died, and a lot more are going to unless [Trump] gets a lot smarter.”

Much of the debate consisted of personal jabs and criticisms, with Trump saying “there’s nothing smart about [Biden]” and Biden calling Trump a “clown.”

Trump also caused controversy due his statements which appear to defend the Proud Boys, an organization affiliated with white supremacists.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”


Task force ranks Oklahoma among worst in nation for pandemic response

The White House Coronavirus Task Force ranked Oklahoma third as one of the worst states in the United States for positive coronavirus test results, placing the state in the red zone.

According to the task force’s report, Oklahoma has a positivity rate of 201 new cases per 100,000 population, a 15% increase from the week prior.

The report recommends increased testing and better isolation efforts for those who test positive for COVID-19. 

Notably, the task force did not recommend a statewide mask mandate, a departure from many previous recommendations. Gov. Kevin Stitt has repeatedly emphasized he will not enforce a statewide mask decision.

Virtual charter school owes Oklahoma millions

After an investigative audit, reports indicate Epic Charter Schools has sent millions of taxpayer dollars to the founders’ for-profit company. 

State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd released a 120-page audit indicating around $125.2 million of the $458 million allocated to Epic Charter Schools between 2015 and 2020 went to Epic Youth Services, a for-profit charter school management company which is run by Epic’s founders.

Ben Harris and David Chaney, the school’s founders, funneled the funds into EYS and boosted their salaries by $2 million.

“By our calculations, Epic owes the State of Oklahoma $8.9 million,” Byrd said.

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