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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Choctaw Nation on Monday announced plans to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the general public, becoming the latest Oklahoma-based tribe to expand vaccine distribution beyond just tribal citizens.

The Durant-based tribe also announced it is partnering with a new national database, Dr. B, that allows people to be put on standby to receive unused doses of the vaccine.

“We realize, to best protect our tribal members, we need to vaccinate the communities in which they live,” said Todd Hallmark, executive officer of health services for the Choctaw Nation.

Native American tribes in Oklahoma have been receiving separate allocations of vaccines from the federal government, and the Chickasaw and Muscogee (Creek) nations have previously announced plans to make some of their allocation available to the general public.

Oklahoma health officials announced on Monday 226 confirmed new coronavirus cases and 29 new deaths. That brings the total number of confirmed infections in the state to more than 440,000 and the state’s death count to 7,961.

After weeks of declining numbers, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases and daily deaths have both increased in Oklahoma over the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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