rural issues

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With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt addressed the media Thursday afternoon to talk about how the state was dealing with record increases. But, his administration isn't overly concerned with the levels.

In the Idaho mountain town of Grangeville, population 3,200, signs in windows on Main Street advertise that Border Days "is on."

The annual Fourth of July celebration boasts street dances, Idaho's longest-running rodeo and even the world's largest egg toss. Like in a lot of small towns, Grangeville's economy has been struggling throughout this pandemic.

Border Days planners decided to go ahead with an altered, if slightly scaled back version of the festival this year amid worries about a possible spike in coronavirus cases.

Voters in Oklahoma narrowly approved a ballot measure Tuesday night to expand Medicaid to eligible adults who need health insurance. Oklahoma is now the 37th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; coverage will begin a year from now, on July 1, 2021.

Based on the final unofficial count, the measure passed with just over a 6,000-vote margin — less than one full percentage point.

The Economic Benefits And Perils Of Adopting Medicaid Expansion

Jun 30, 2020
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

The campaigns on both sides of State Question 802 have made numerous claims about the potential benefits and perils of Medicaid expansion, which is being voted on today.

Allison Herrera

When I visited Quapaw Nation's beef processing plant in 2018, it was less than a year old. The building was still pretty shiny and cattle and bison grazed on a vast field. They had a dozen or so employees and were in the process of getting one of the first Native Americans ⁠— a young Quapaw man ⁠— to be trained as a USDA meat inspector. Today, a lot has changed.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

KOSU, the public radio station licensed to Oklahoma State University, welcomes a new reporter to cover agriculture and rural issues. At a time when local journalism is reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, KOSU is expanding its newsroom to be of better service to the Oklahoma community.

SPENCER PUGH / UNSPLASH

Studies have found the rates of mental illness and suicide are higher for farmers. The profession requires long hours, limited social contact and is often at the mercy of external factors such as weather and market rates. Now the COVID-19 pandemic has farmers facing unprecedented challenges, and this has some worried about a mental health crisis in this community.

JOHN PAUL COONROD

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store aisles have been crowded, and shelves emptied of basic food items. To avoid the mayhem, some shoppers are turning to smaller markets in more rural areas. That’s giving rural grocery stores a boost.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the decision by lawmakers to end the legislative session two weeks early, Governor Stitt vetoes a bill on rural broadband and lawmakers pass a bill giving a Cost of Living Adjustment for State Retirees.

The trio also discusses a constitutional challenge to the new law requiring notarization of absentee ballots and remembering Oklahoma City Republican Senator Brooks Douglass.

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Updated May 20

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed House Bill 4018 on Tuesday, writing that the Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe has already created a broadband task force and creating a Rural Broadband Expansion Council would be unneccesary and redundant.

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