Number of Oklahoma flu deaths now stands at 51 for season

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of flu-related deaths in Oklahoma this season now stands at 51.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Thursday that nearly half of the deaths have come in northeastern Oklahoma with 15 in the region and 10 more in Tulsa County, which is tabulated separately.

The department reports more than 2,000 people hospitalized with influenza since the start of the flu season on Sept. 1.

There have been 34 deaths among people 65 or older, 10 in the 50-64 age group, six who were between 18 and 40 and one who was between 5 and 17 years old.

Health Department spokesman Tony Sellars says 291 people died due to the flu during Oklahoma's previous flu season, the most since the agency began tracking flu deaths in 2009.


Oklahoma appeals court upholds life sentence in gang slaying

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the life prison sentence of a 42-year-old man convicted of shooting a rival gang member to death.

The court returned the ruling Thursday to Eric Tyrone Bradford, who was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in Tulsa County in the April 30, 2016, shooting death of 37-year-old Daniel Watashe.

Prosecutors alleged Bradford, a member of the Hoover Crips street gang, "stalked" Watashe before fatally shooting him. During an August 2016 preliminary hearing, two witnesses testified that Bradford had confronted Watashe, a member of the Neighborhood Crips gang, about his relationship with a woman.

Among other things, the appeals court rejected arguments that evidence was improperly admitted at Bradford's trial. Bradford's attorney, Richard Couch, didn't immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.


Oklahoma governor asks for Medicaid enrollment audit

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's new Gov. Kevin Stitt is asking for an audit of the state's Medicaid enrollment to see if some savings can be realized.

Stitt said Wednesday he has formally requested an audit by the Auditor and Inspector's Office for Medicaid enrollment from 2015 to 2018. He wants to see whether the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is properly determining eligibility and removing from the rolls those who no longer qualify for various Medicaid programs.

Stitt says other states have realized savings after performing similar audits.

A spokeswoman for the Health Care Authority says the agency welcomes the audit.

The Health Care Authority received about $1.1 billion in state appropriations from the Legislature last year.