Presidential campaign gets second “October curprise”

The death last month of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg provided an early “October surprise” for the presidential campaign. President Trump’s positive test for COVID-19 is a second blockbuster.

The election is just more than a month away, and the positive test means Trump will have to get off the campaign trail at least for a while as he quarantines with first lady Melania Trump, who also is positive.

The White House physician says Trump is expected to handle his duties “without disruption” while recovering. But Trump’s age (74) puts him at a higher risk of being hit hard by the virus. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.

This development is a reminder of the reach of COVID-19, and the importance of following public health protocols such as keeping your distance from others and wearing a mask in public, something the president rejected frequently.

Devon merger a look to the future

Devon Energy announced plans this week to merge with Tulsa-based WPX Energy. At its height, Devon employed about 5,000 people companywide. Today that figure stands at roughly 1,400, with about 850 in Oklahoma City. WPX, with 600 employees, is building a new headquarters in Tulsa but company officials say it is unlikely WPX will move in. This year’s energy price collapse hurt both companies. However, the merger will produce significant cost savings, and the new company will be a dominant operator in the Delaware Basin of west Texas and eastern New Mexico. Andrew Dittmar, a senior analyst at Enverus, said the deal “represents the form of shale company consolidation that many across the industry are looking for. … The selling point for investors is that the larger combined company will have the scale and efficiencies to navigate a challenging price environment and free cash flow for its investors.” Devon has been an important corporate partner for decades. Our hoping is this deal helps ensure that role continues for many years to come.

New veterans cemetery planned in state

Oklahoma is getting a new cemetery to serve veterans and their eligible family members. The National Cemetery Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, awarded a $7.3 million grant to build the cemetery in Ardmore. Oklahoma is home to national veterans cemeteries in Fort Gibson and Fort Sill, and has state veterans cemeteries in Seminole, Oklahoma City and Ponca City. A Cherokee Nation Veterans Cemetery is also in the works. The newest one will be part of the Oklahoma Veterans Department. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, credited Ardmore and state officials for helping secure the grant. “The brave men and women who have defended our country deserve the utmost respect, and I am proud that Ardmore will soon serve as the final resting place for our veteran heroes,” Cole said. Kudos.

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