The head of the nonprofit responsible for helping resettle roughly 800 Afghan refugees in the Tulsa area said Wednesday that the State Department has advised their arrivals will be delayed by roughly three weeks due to cases of measles.
"It turns out that maybe five or 10 people tested positive for measles, and so they feel as though that's one of the inoculations or vaccinations they need to provide, and I guess it takes 21 days for it to take hold," said Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma CEO Deacon Kevin Sartorius in a video update posted to Facebook.
Sartorius said the refugees are being held on U.S. military bases pending their arrival at Tulsa International Airport. He said the State Department had begun sending information like names and family arrangements of some of the individuals bound for Tulsa, which include unmarried adult men and families of up to six people.
Sartorius said the delay gives Catholic Charities more time to work with community organizations that are pledging assistance in the resettlement effort, like United Way, Goodwill and Food on the Move.
He also said help is still needed from the community.
"What we really need are two things: One is permanent housing, so if you see a 'for lease' sign... let us know," Sartorius said. "The other thing we need a lot of help with are household items for those apartments."
Individuals, companies, faith communities and other groups can find more information in aiding the refugees at the Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma website.