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Oklahoma voters narrowly approved a ballot measure on Tuesday to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), defying Republican state and federal officials who have long opposed such a move.

The ballot measure passed by only a few thousand votes, prevailing by 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent who opposed it.

Still, it makes Oklahoma the fifth state controlled by Republicans to approve Medicaid expansion through a ballot measure, joining the ranks of Idaho, Maine, Nebraska and Utah.

The ballot initiative has taken on an increased urgency amid the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting economic fallout. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs in recent months, leaving many without health insurance at a time when coverage is needed more than ever.

The Medicaid expansion could extend health coverage to roughly 200,000 low-income Oklahomans. The expansion will allow upwards of $1 billion in federal funds to flow into Oklahoma, while the state would pick up only a small percentage of the cost.

News Source: thehill.com

Health experts: Don't let your guard down this July 4th weekend, COVID-19 remains a significant health risk

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USA: Concerns over viruses on holiday weekend

Florida authorities reported a record number of new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the latest sign that the virus is re-emerging in many parts of the United States, tarnishing Independence Day celebrations.

Officials and health authorities asked the population to take precautions or simply stay home over the holiday weekend as confirmed cases of COVID-19 rebound in 40 of the country’s 50 states. On Friday, the United States set another record for daily cases with 52,300 new infections, according to the Johns Hopkins University count.

The United States has more than 2.8 million confirmed cases, about a quarter of infections worldwide, according to the count, which is believed to be less than the actual number due in part to cases of asymptomatic people and a limited amount of evidence.

Florida reported 11,445 confirmed cases Saturday, bringing the state’s total to more than 190,000.

This week, Alabama also set a record for daily infections, with more than 1,700 registered on Thursday and state health authorities fear that the holiday weekend may spark the same kind of rebound that occurred after the holiday weekend by the Memorial Day in Wars.

“I’m really concerned about July 4,” said doctor Don Williamson, a former state health official who currently heads the Alabama Hospital Association. “I think that will probably determine Alabama’s trend for the rest of the summer.”

The disturbing updates came as local authorities and health experts across the country tried to downplay the chances of the virus continuing to spread on a holiday weekend when people generally go swimming, attend outdoor gatherings and clutter parade sites and fireworks displays.

Many communities canceled those events and urged people not to gather on their own.

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Chandler reported from Montgomery, Alabama, and Foody from Chicago.

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