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Oklahoma Officials Celebrate State Health Pandemic Center Opening, Public Health Lab Relocation

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Oklahoma Health Care Authority
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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and other state officials attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for newly relocated Public Health Lab in Stillwater, Okla.

Gov. Kevin Stitt and top state officials held a ribbon cutting Thursday for the newly relocated Public Health Lab and new Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE) in Stillwater, Okla.

Officials announced in October they would be moving the Public Health Laboratory away from Oklahoma City’s biomedical hub to a more rural area for improved focus on rural and animal health.

"Scientific discoveries taking place in animal health have direct implications on human health and vice versa," said Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur. "The establishment of OPCIE is welcome news for our ranchers and farmers who understand the importance of food safety and security to maintaining human health."

The plan has garnered significant criticism — from elected officials on both sides of the aisle, medical industry organizations and past health officials. Stillwater lacks the central location and highway access that Oklahoma City provides, as well as a biomedical hub.

Critics have raised concerns about the use of coronavirus relief funds to help pay for the center and the lack of legislative input on the plan.

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