In The Know: Children make up 25% of new virus cases | Stillwater declares emergency | Medicaid expansion can help justice-involved

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Medicaid expansion will facilitate easier access to care for justice-involved Oklahomans: The passage and implementation of Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma provides a unique opportunity to further address the state’s crisis of incarceration, as some 200,000 more Oklahomans are now eligible for comprehensive mental and physical health care through Medicaid. Our state, county governments, and community-based organizations can leverage this new coverage option to divert more individuals from the justice system and streamline access to health care as people return to their communities. These efforts will likely generate cost savings, reduce recidivism, and increase quality of life for impacted Oklahomans. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Children make up nearly 25% of new COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma, data shows: School-age kids made up almost a quarter of the new COVID-19 cases across Oklahoma last week, according to data from the state Health Department. Just since the first week of August, Oklahoma is seeing children make up a larger share of the state’s COVID-19 cases, deputy health commissioner Keith Reed said at a media briefing Thursday. During that week, school-age children made up about 13% of new cases. [The Oklahoman]

  • Increased COVID testing likely responsible for positivity slump [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • COVID-19 tests are in high demand. Here’s where to find one across Oklahoma City [The Oklahoman]
  • COVID-19 information Oklahomans need to know [Tulsa World]
  • State’s hospital capacity data shows ICU beds available while several Oklahoma City-area hospitals publicly say they have none [Tulsa World]

Stillwater mayor declares State of Emergency: Basing it on the “medical health of the community,” Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce has declared a State of Emergency for the City of Stillwater. Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said the declaration was necessary to help Stillwater Medical, a regional hospital that treats patients beyond Payne County’s borders and has had patients on emergency room holds awaiting rooms. [Stillwater News Press]

  • Stillwater mayor declares state of emergency as hospital ICU remains full; warns of ‘limited patient resources’ [Tulsa World]

What does COVID-19 have to do with water supply? Why cities are asking people to conserve: A sharp rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations is affecting Oklahomans in an unexpected way: their water supply. With demand for liquid oxygen up — which hospitals use to help patients breathe and some cities use to treat their water supply — some Oklahoma residents are being asked to cut back on their water usage. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Editorial: Expanded Medicaid benefits state: Oklahomans learned this week that expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act was not the budget-busting exercise its critics made it out to be. Kevin Corbett, chief executive officer at Oklahoma Health Care Authority, told lawmakers on Monday the $164 million they appropriated for the program remains untouched in a state agency savings account. The agency has paid for Medicaid expansion up to this point with savings realized by implementing the program. [Editorial Board / Muskogee Phoenix]

Oklahoma Watch debuts podcast ‘Long Story Short’: Reporter Trevor Brown talks about what he learned about reluctant patients after talking to doctors about COVID vaccines. Whitney Bryen expands on her research that showed a spike in Oklahoma suicides that coincided with the pandemic. And Keaton Ross explains the new connections being drawn tying adverse childhood experience scores to incarceration rates [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Oklahoma public safety director named, top lawyer resigns: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday announced the appointment of a new commissioner of public safety in the state and said the governor’s top lawyer is resigning. Stitt said he has appointed Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Tipton as director of public safety, replace retiring commissioner John Scully. Stitt also announced that he accepted the resignation of general counsel Jason Reese, effective Sept. 17. Stitt said Reese will return to private practice. [AP News]

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt appoints Highway Patrol captain as new public safety commissioner [The Oklahoman]

Governor boasts of achievements: Gov. Kevin Stitt stopped Thursday in Muskogee to boast about some of his first-term successes before the 2022 election cycle begins. During a Muskogee Rotary Club luncheon he reviewed some highlights of the “most productive” session legislative leaders can recall. A $1.8 billion savings account and tax cuts topped his list. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Abortion rights advocates sue to block pending Oklahoma laws: A coalition of abortion rights advocates, clinics and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to block recent Oklahoma anti-abortion legislation from taking effect. The lawsuit filed in a state district court in Oklahoma City aims to block legislation that Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law in April and that is due to take effect Nov. 1. [AP News]

School mask mandate ban halted, Congressman Markwayne Mullin, anti-protest law challenged & more (podcast): This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses a judge’s decision to put a temporary injunction against Senate Bill 658 banning schools from issuing a mask mandate, Congressman Markwayne Mullin returning home after attempting to get into Afghanistan and Governor Stitt calling the Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma decision the most pressing issue facing the state. [KOSU]

Driver’s licenses will soon be coming to the iPhone and Apple Watch in these 8 states: Eight states will begin to roll out a new feature that will allow users to add their driver’s license and state IDs to Apple Wallet for iPhone and Apple Watch. Arizona and Georgia will be the first states to introduce the feature, Apple announced on Wednesday, with Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah to follow afterward. [KOSU]

Longtime Tulsa lawmaker Charles Ford dead at age 90: Longtime Tulsa lawmaker Charles R. Ford, who served in the Oklahoma House and Senate a total of 38 years, has died. He was 90. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma veterans frustrated they were unable to get family of interpreter out of Afghanistan: The family of a wartime interpreter remains trapped inside Afghanistan despite the efforts of two Oklahoma veterans who had been working to get them out ahead of the United States’ withdrawal from the country. Justin Chizmar, of Grove, said Wednesday afternoon that the family of the interpreter nicknamed Sam was unharmed, but remained in hiding in Afghanistan. He said the United States government did not evacuate the family ahead of its Aug. 31 withdrawal. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Democrat Abby Broyles to challenge Republican Stephanie Bice for congressional seat: Democrat Abby Broyles, who waged an unsuccessful battle last year to unseat U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, announced Wednesday that she plans to challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Stephanie Bice for the congressional seat that includes most of Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman] | [AP News]

Criminal Justice News

State officials are ready to resume executions. Here’s what you need to know: Oklahoma’s death chamber, once among the busiest in the nation, could reopen in October as state officials look to resume executions for the first time in nearly seven years. Last week Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Conner asked the state Court of Criminal Appeals to schedule execution dates for seven death row prisoners. Among them is Julius Jones, whose innocence claim in the 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell has attracted national attention. [Oklahoma Watch]

OKC area police officer who fatally shot man with bat gets murder, manslaughter charges tossed out: A judge has ruled that an officer with The Village Police Department was justified in fatally shooting a man who approached him with a bat. [The Oklahoman]

Column: Expungement reform provides economic benefit: Some estimates say as many as 100,000 Oklahomans with a criminal record are eligible for a record-clearing expungement, but many are without the financial resources to seal the record. A bipartisan group is working with national organizations – The Clean Slate Initiative, Right on Crime, and Code for America – to give Oklahoma a needed upgrade to its digital infrastructure that would automate much of the expungement process for certain eligible people. [Jonathan Small Column / Journal Record]

Economic Opportunity

The Source Podcast: Discussing intersection of immigration and domestic violence: Reporters from The Oklahoman and Telemundo presented compelling stories this week about domestic violence in the Hispanic community. In the latest episode of The Source, one of those reporters, Josh Dulaney of The Oklahoman, dives into the challenges that domestic abuse victims face. Their struggle is magnified if they don’t know the language, or how the United States legal system works. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Construction firms hit with one-two punch of labor shortage, COVID vaccine hesitancy: Oklahoma construction firms are 33% more likely than the country as a whole to say a worker shortage is making projects take longer to finish, and vaccine hesitancy appears not to be helping matters for anyone. According to a 2021 workforce survey by Associated General Contractors of America, 81% of Oklahoma firms responding said a labor shortage is holding up projects, compared to 61% of firms nationwide. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Stitt to headline Enid contractors conference planned by Autry this month: Gov. Kevin Stitt will speak in Enid at a conference later this month for Northwest Oklahoma contractors being organized by Autry Technology Center. More than 200 people have registered to attend the Northwest Oklahoma Contractors Conference, set for Sept. 17 in Stride Bank Center’s Grand Ballroom, Autry Superintendent/CEO Dwight Hughes said Wednesday. [Enid News & Eagle]

OKC house prices may be more affordable than you think: This might come as a surprise, but despite a 14% jump in home prices in just a year — one mere year — Oklahoma City still has some of the most affordable houses in the country, new research shows. [The Oklahoman]

Tyson, Perdue Farms shell out $36 million to settle antitrust claims in Oklahoma lawsuit: Tyson and Perdue Farms agreed to pay a total of $35.75 million to broiler chicken farmers to settle a class action lawsuit. It’s part of a larger antitrust lawsuit involving some of the country’s largest chicken processors, including Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms and Koch Foods. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2017 in the Eastern District of the Oklahoma federal court. [KOSU]

Authorities monitoring anthrax cattle death in Jackson County: A cow in Jackson County died mid-August after being exposed to bovine anthrax, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry confirmed Tuesday. [Southwest Ledger]

General News

Thoughtful, funny Reservation Dogs highlights ‘Indians in unexpected places’: For a college course at the University of Oklahoma, I read the book “Indians in Unexpected Places” by Philip Deloria. The paper I turned in about it received a fair-to-middling grade, but a point from the book has always stuck with me: that Indian stereotypes have us frozen in the past. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa Police hold vigil for officer battling COVID-19 in ICU [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa’s Hawthorne Elementary to remain in distance learning [Tulsa World]
  • With criminal investigation pending, accuser dismisses protective order against John Woods [NonDoc]
  • Ninnekah Public Schools sex abuse investigation turned over to OSBI [The Oklahoman]
  • OSU to host vaccine clinics prior to home football games [The Black Wall Street Times]

Quote of the Day

“We have now reached that critical threshold where our hospital no longer has available staffed beds and without each of us making necessary health changes, the trajectory is anticipated to continue declining.”

-Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce in announcing the city’s state of emergency [Stillwater News Press]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans who enter prison with non-violent offenses and have mental health or substance abuse needs. [Healthy Minds Oklahoma]

Policy Note

Juvenile Justice Laws Provide Model for Improving Health Care Access for Individuals Leaving Incarceration: Transitioning from incarceration to the community without services and supports is medically risky, especially for people who are incarcerated with Substance Use Disorders (SUD). Studies have found that the mortality rate for people recently released from prison is twelve times higher than the general population. Having Medicaid available when leaving prison or jail gives people a better chance at positive health outcomes and success staying out of the criminal justice system. [National Health Law Program]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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