Current Issues

Coronavirus

The CDC recommends to wear a mask, stay six feet apart, and avoid crowds. For more up-to-date information from the CDC, including quaratine guidelines, CLICK HERE. For COVID guidelines from the Oklahoma Department of Health, CLICK HERE

UPDATES (1/14/2021): 

On December 21, 2020, Congress approved an additional $600 for direct payments ($1200 for those filing joint, plus $600 for each qualifying child). If you didn't receive the first Economic Impact Payment, you are eligible for a Recovery REbate Credit. to check on your second timulus payment, or for more information on the Recovery REbate credit, CLICK HERE to visit the IRS website. 

The Pandemic Unemployment Assitance (PUA) has been extended through April 5, 2021, with an additional $300 a week for 10 weeks. For information on unemployment insurance, CLICK HERE to visit the Oklahoma unemployment website. 

A second round of the sucessful Paycheck Protection Program has been approved. If you are a qualifying small business in need of assistance during the COVID pandemic, please visit the resources in the tab for Oklahoma Small Businesses. 

If you have applied and received a PPP loan, SBA and Treasury have released the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application. CLICK HERE to review and fill out the form. 

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Check @SenatorLankford on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for additional information. Don't forget to turn on notifications for @SenatorLankford for the various platforms so you are alerted about resources and updates Senator Lankford shares on social media.

Resources

The distrubtion of the COVID-19 is administered by the Oklahoma State Health Department and has launced a vaccine scheduler portal. The portal will allow Oklahomans to find when they are eligible for the vaccine and to schedule an appointment. To learn more, visit the OSDH website by CLICKING HERE

Vaccine Phases

  • Phase 1: 
    • Long term care residents and staff
    • Health care workers supporting direct inpatient care
    • Public health staff conducting front line COVID-19 pandemic mitigation
    • Oklahoma state licensed emergency medical technicians and paramedics
  • Phase 2: 
    • First responders, paid and unpaid
    • Health care workers providing direct COVID outpatient care and services
    • Adults age 65 and older and adults of any age with Comorbidties
    • Teachers and staff in Pre-K-12 schools and educational settings
    • Staff and REsidents in congregate locations and worksites
    • Public health staff supporting front line efforts
  • Phase 3: 
    • Teachers, staff, and residents in other education settings
    • Critical infrastructure personnel as specified in the 3rd Executive Order
  • Phase 4: 
    • All Oklahoma Residents

To review the state's distribution plan, CLICK HERE

Vaccine FAQ

Q: Can I register for the vaccine on behalf of someone else?

A: You can use the same email to register multple people on the portal as long as the names and dates of birth are different. 

Q: Why can't I get an appointment right away?

  • Even if you are eligile to receive the vaccine, there may not be an appointment available in your area right away.
  • The amount of people we can vaccineate depends upon the supply we receive from the federal government. 
  • Oklahoma has adopted a phased approach to distribute the vaccine because supply is limited. The pahsed plan ensures the vaccine can get to those who are most at risk first. 
  • Please be patient--healthcare professionals are working hard to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible based on the supply. 
  • We will notify wehn you are eligible to recieve the vaccine. 
  • Once you receive an email notification that you are eligible, please chek the link in the email on Thursday mornings for new appointments near you. 

For more Vaccine FAQs from the OSDH, CLICK HERE

COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

Please be aware of COVID-19 vaccine scams.

  • Any ads or offers for early access to a vaccine in exchange for payment are entirely fraudulent.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine will always be free to Oklahomans.
  • OSDH will NOT ask you for payment to register for or receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • For accurate information on the Vaccine Scheduler Portal and registeraion, visit oklahoma.gov/covid19/vaccine-information/vaccine-faqs.

James received the COVID-19 vaccine in December and released the following statement: 

“Operation Warp Speed is the result of public-private partnership and American ingenuity,” said Lankford. “Through a great deal of hard work and innovative science, we have two safe and effective vaccines and more in the pipeline. Today the US Capitol's Office of Attending Physician encouraged Members of Congress, under the continuity of government protocols, to take the vaccine as soon as possible. I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine this afternoon. I will receive the second dosage in 21 days.”

“Today, because I wanted to show my confidence in the safety of the vaccine and as part of the continuity of government protocols, I received the COVID-19 vaccine from the Office of the Attending Physician,” Inhofe said. “Because of the incredible work of scientists and researchers, along with the health professionals at the FDA, Operation Warp Speed, and the Trump Administration, we have a safe vaccine in record time. I am fully confident in its safety and efficacy, and I urge all Oklahomans and Americans to get the vaccine when it is available to them. Any funding bill must have resources for distribution to make sure the vaccine gets to our frontline health care workers and all Americans."

You can see the full release here

Assistance for Oklahoma Small Businesses

UPDATE: In December 2020, Congress approved $325 billion for a second round of the successful Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses with the highest need. CLICK HERE to read Senator Lankford's statement. 

Paycheck Protection Program

  • First Draw PPP Loans, CLICK HERE.
  • Second Draw PPP Loans, CLICK HERE.
  • To contact OKlahoma's SBA contact, Oklahoma_DO@sba.gov 

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The Small Business Administration also administers the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. On March 20, SBA Administrator approved Oklahoma's eligibility for small businesses to apply for EIDL. The CARES Act approved $10 billion for an "emergency" EIDL program. Eligible entities will now be able to apply for the loan directly through SBA.  

For more information, CLICK HERE for a one-page document on the EIDL program. *Update: Ag Coops are eligible for EIDL. 

For a full list of the programs available to Oklahoma's small businesses, visit SBA's website


Employee Retention Credit

The Employee Retention Credit has been extended under the Tax RElief Act of 2020. It encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. 

CLICK HERE for an FAQ document from the IRS. 

 

Unemployment Insurance

The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which is a new, temporary unemployment insurance program for individuals during COVID-19. PUA allows self-employed individuals to apply for unemployment. The work search requirement for unemployment claims has been waived and the one week waiting period before UI benefits begin as been waived. For more information, visit the OESC website oesc.ok.gov

How do I apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program? 

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is accepting PUA applications, visit oesc.ok.gov for more information.

FAQ sheet on PUA and Oklahoma Unemployment Insurance, CLICK HERE

There are multiple qualifying circumstances related to COVID-19 that can make an individual eligible for PUA, including if the individual quits his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19. Quitting to access unemployment benefits is not one of them. Individuals who quit their jobs to access higher benefits, and are untruthful in their unemployment application about their reason for quitting, will be considered to have committed fraud. If desired, employers can contest unemployment insurance claims through their state unemployment insurance agency’s process.

If you believe you are a victim of fraud please email OESC at Fraud@oesc.state.ok.us and file a report with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office by completing the online form. CLICK HERE for that document.


For questions about the US Department of Labor's guidance and resources on health care benefits and retirement benefits, CLICK HERE for an FAQ for participants and beneficiaries. 

Faith-based organizations are eligible  to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). CLICK HERE for the policy guidance issued by SBA. 

Paycheck Protection Program

  • First Draw PPP Loans, CLICK HERE.
  • Second Draw PPP Loans, CLICK HERE.
  • To contact OKlahoma's SBA contact, Oklahoma_DO@sba.gov 

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The Small Business Administration also administers the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. On March 20, SBA Administrator approved Oklahoma's eligibility for small businesses to apply for EIDL. The CARES Act approved $10 billion for an "emergency" EIDL program. Eligible entities will now be able to apply for the loan directly through SBA.  

For more information, CLICK HERE for a one-page document on the EIDL program. 

For a full list of the programs available to Oklahoma's small businesses, visit SBA's website

 

For the most up-to-date information regarding information for Farmers, food assistance, loans and rants, school meals, food supply chain, animals and plants, national forests, and resports and research in reference to COVID-19 response, CLICK HERE

USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box program is also partnering with regional and local distributors whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels, and other food services, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat to deliver boxes to Americans in need. 

Beginning May 26, USDA's Farm Service Agency will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. The application form and a payment calculator for producers will be available online once signup begins. An updated video preview of the payment calculator is currently available.

Non-Specialty Crops and Wool 

Non-specialty crops eligible for CFAP payments include malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat. Wool is also eligible. Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of January 15, 2020. Payment will be made based on 50 percent of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory as of January 15, 2020, whichever is smaller, multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates. 

Livestock 

Livestock eligible for CFAP includes cattle, lambs, yearlings, and hogs. The total payment will be calculated using the sum of the producer’s number of livestock sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the payment rates per head, and the highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head. 

Dairy 

For dairy, the total payment will be calculated based on a producer’s certification of milk production for the first quarter of the calendar year 2020 multiplied by a national price decline during the same quarter. The second part of the payment is based on a national adjustment to each producer’s production in the first quarter. 

Specialty Crops 

For eligible specialty crops, the total payment will be based on the volume of products sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020; the volume of the production shipped, but unpaid; and the number of acres for which harvested production did not leave the farm or mature product destroyed or not harvested during that same time period, and which have not and will not be sold. Specialty crops include, but are not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes. A full list of eligible crops can be found on farmers.gov/cfap. Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date. 

Eligibility 

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits where members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions. 

Applying for Assistance 

Producers can apply for assistance beginning on May 26, 2020. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA offices. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020. 

Payment Structure 

To ensure the availability of funding throughout the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date as funds remain available. 

For more information on CFAP, CLICK HERE.

COVID information for Veterans

Urgent Care vs Emergency Care for Veterans

Due to COVID-19 many VA clinics have canceled or rescheduled appointments causing an increased number of Emergency room admissions. The MISSION Act has provided an Urgent Care benefit that does not require reauthorization and is available for Veterans that meet the eligibility criteria. 

For more information, CLICK HERE


For questions about how COVID-19 may affect your VA health care and benefit services, visit the coronavirus FAQs or you can visit the VA’s website to read the VA’s public health response


The OKC VA facility and clinics are open and continue to care for Veterans. New visitor restrictions are in place. For additional information, please visit the VA's Public Health website. CLICK HERE for more information.

    • Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System recommends all Veteran patients refill or renew their routine medications for mail delivery to reduce the risk of community spread. Please order refills at least 14 days in advance using either option below:
      • MyHealtheVet - www.myhealth.va.gov
      • Automated Refill Line- 1- 888-397-8387, press 1 for pharmacy, press 2 for pharmacy staff.
      • Mail Refill Slip
      • Call Center- 1- 888-397-8387, press 1 for pharmacy, press 2 for pharmacy staff.
      • If you have a prescription from a community provider or you are out of a critical medication such as Insulin, Blood Pressure, Mental Health, and Anti-Coagulation medications, you should go to the VA Outpatient Pharmacy in person in either Muskogee or Tulsa. 

With the potential increase in stress and anxiety due to COVID-19, OKC VAHCS is encouraging Veterans to use the Veteran's, Crisis Line.

Veteran's Crisis Line

If you or a Veteran or Armed Service Member is in crisis trained responders are available to assist 24-7. To speak to someone, please: 

  • Dial 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to talk to someone. 
  • Send a text message to 838255 to connect with a VA responder.
  • Start a confidential online chat session at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Behavioral health and mental health hotline information 

The OKC VA Health Care System has a local hotline available 24/7. To talk to an OKC VAHCS employee about behavior health during COVID-19, dial 405-456-4488.

COVID-19 Hotline

OKC VAHCS has also set up a local hotline to answer general questions regarding COVID-19. The hotline is available from 6 am CT-8 pm CT. Dial 405-456-7119 to ask a question.  


News Updates for Veterans: 

On October 1, 2020, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is expaning the Caregivers program to Veterans of all eras. This expansion was passed in the MISSION Act, which Senator Lankford supported. 

The expansion will roll out in two phases: 

1. Phase I began on October 1, 2020, with eligible Veterans who served on or before May 7, 1975 which is all qualified veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam

2. Phase II will start October 1, 2022, and will include eligible Veterans who seved between May 7, 1975, and Sept. 11, 2001. 

VA's Caregiver Support Program offers a wide variet of support services for caregivers of Veterans. For more information you can call the Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274 or visit the website

  • On May 11, 2020, attorneys for Jimcy McGirt, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and the Oklahoma Solicitor General argued their respective sides of a case before the US Supreme Court. on The question in the McGirt case was, in essence, whether the Muscogee (Creek) Reservation (a large section of eastern Oklahoma) was “disestablished” as a reservation by Congress.
  • Attorneys for Mr. McGirt, a tribal member, argued that Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction to try him in Oklahoma state court because they argued his crime was committed on Muscogee (Creek) reservation land. The Major Crimes Act, which covers crimes like rape and murder, gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction to try these crimes if committed on a reservation and involving a tribal member.
  • On July 9, 2020, in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Gorsuch, the Court held in McGirt that “for purposes of the Major Crimes Act, land throughout much of eastern Oklahoma reserved for the Creek Nation since the 19th century remains a Native American territory.”
  • CLICK HERE to read the Supreme Court’s opinion in McGirt.
  • McGirt is largely considered a second attempt for the Supreme Court to rule on this issue after the Court did not immediately issue a ruling on a similar case, Sharp v. Murphy, in which Justice Gorsuch recused himself, during a previous term of the Court.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt led to the immediate affirmation of the Tenth Circuit’s decision in Murphy, which means the state of Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction to try Mr. Murphy either for the reasons set in the Court’s McGirt opinion. CLICK HERE for more information on Murphy.
  • Senator Lankford acknowledges that work remains to clarify a framework for criminal and civil regulatory jurisdiction that provides consistency and predictability for all people living and doing business within the state.
  • Tribes, state officials, stakeholders, and other members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation must work together to ensure an acceptable solution is reached that promotes the certainty, safety and well-being of all Oklahomans.

REAL ID

  • On September 11, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Oklahoma’s state-issued IDs are now compliant with the REAL ID Act and its federal requirements. CLICK HERE to read Senator Lankford’s statement on the announcement.
  • DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf extended the overall REAL ID enforcement deadline to October 1, 2021, which is the date Oklahomans have to obtain a REAL ID or acceptable alternative form of identification to fly domestically or to access federal buildings.
  • On October 1, 2020, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (OKDPS) began issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and ID cards. CLICK HERE to visit the OKDPS REAL ID webpage on how and where to get your REAL ID.
  • To update your Oklahoma driver’s license to be REAL ID compliant, you will need to provide several official documents at a local tag agency or at the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to prove who you are and where you live. CLICK HERE for a full list of acceptable documents to update your license or ID card.
  • An alternative form of identification like a passport book (passport cards only provide for domestic travel or to Canada/Mexico by car) will ensure that regardless of a person’s Oklahoma ID status, he or she can fly (domestically or internationally), enter federal properties that require an ID, and travel internationally. All alternative forms of identification for the purpose of travel can be found here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification
  • Oklahomans who have a valid state driver’s license that expires after October 2020, may still use that license, combined with a US Passport, to meet the REAL ID requirements.  They would obtain an Oklahoma REAL ID at their regular renewal time. 

To protect the health and safety of Oklahomans, the operations of the Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Washington, DC, offices will move to full-time telework until further notice. James's office will continue to respond to telephone calls, casework assistance, email, and mail correspondence, and he will still meet virtually with Oklahomans. Visit the contact page for information on how to reach James or his staff. 

For information on visiting the US Capitol, visit the US Capitol Visitor Center website by CLICKING HERE.

If you are experience symptoms or have questions regarding COVID-19 you can call the Oklahoma State Department of Health COVID-19 call center at 877-215-8336 or 2-1-1. The call lines are open 24-7.