Oklahoma seeks federal help to beat unemployment fraud
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An investigation into fraudulent unemployment claims made during the coronavirus pandemic has been turned over to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Secret Service, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday.
The investigation found fraud beyond the borders of Oklahoma, OSBI said.
“These criminals might be outside of our reach, but they are not outside the reach of the United States federal government,” OSBI Director Ricky Adams said in a news release. “Our agents and intelligence analysts will be here to assist our federal partners as necessary” in investigating fraud in Oklahoma.
Former Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Director Robin Roberson has said thousands of fraudulent unemployment claims blocked legitimate claimants from receiving benefits. Roberson resigned last week as the agency came under fire for unpaid jobless claims.
The agency announced on Wednesday that its governing board voted 5-0 to hire Shelley Zumwalt as its interim director. Zumwalt is a former budget analyst and communications director at the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
Oklahoma has 92 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths connected to the disease, health officials reported Wednesday.
The latest report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health brings the total number of positive cases in Oklahoma to 6,229 and the death toll to 322. The case count is likely far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The four deaths reported Wednesday were all people over the age of 65; a man and a woman in Tulsa County and two women in Washington County.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Oral Roberts University in Tulsa said Wednesday that in-person classes will resume in the fall semester. The semester will end with the Thanksgiving break.
Instead of a traditional week-long fall break, the university will have three, one-day holidays during the semester, it said in a news release.
“While it is unusual to think about a fall semester without a fall break, we believe these three ‘one day off’ moments will be valuable,” ORU President Dr. William M. Wilson said. “Our goal is to keep our students safe by preventing travel and ultimately decreasing possible exposure to COVID-19.”
The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University already said in-person classes will resume in the fall. The University of Tulsa plans in-person and online instruction.
OU on Tuesday announced plans to open its football facilities on July 1. Players must be tested beforehand and monitored by medical staff.