In The Know: COVID deaths more than double decade of flu deaths | Judge rules on state abortion laws | More

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

Interim study looks at services, resources for troubled children, families (Capitol Update): Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, hosted an interim study in the House Children, Family, and Youth Committee chaired by Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, last week to look at the feasibility of adding a “Family in Need of Services (FINS)” category to the Oklahoma Juvenile Code. According to Rep. Pae, 32 other states have a FINS statute, including neighboring Arkansas. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

COVID-19 has killed more than twice as many people in U.S. than 10 flu seasons, Saint Francis official says: In less than two years, COVID-19 has killed more than twice as many people in the U.S. than a decade of influenza has, said Dr. Mark Frost, chief medical officer for Saint Francis Health System, in warning people not to become complacent as the latest surge eases. Frost said focusing on vaccinating the community against COVID is crucial to finally bringing the pandemic to a close and protecting against the potential for another variant to emerge that shoves aside the delta variant. [Tulsa World]

  • ‘Get one in one arm and one in the other arm’ — Tulsans urged to get COVID and flu vaccinations [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa Public Schools staff to get $500 stipends for vaccination [Tulsa World]
  • Skiatook mourns high school art teacher’s COVID death [Tulsa World]
  • Owasso police officer who died of COVID remembered as ‘the fun one; he kept everyone laughing’ [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma judge blocks 2 abortion laws, allows 3 others: An Oklahoma judge on Monday temporarily blocked two new anti-abortion laws from taking effect next month, including a measure similar to a Texas abortion ban that effectively bans the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy. [AP News] The judge, however, refused to block enforcement of a new law that requires abortion doctors in Oklahoma to be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She also refused to block enforcement of two abortion medication laws. [The Oklahoman]

State announces $8 billion for 1,600 ‘critically needed’ highway projects over eight years: The Oklahoma Department of Transportation on Monday announced an additional $2 billion for highway projects, bringing the total to nearly $8 billion over the next eight years. [Tulsa World] The plan is updated annually, and the new one covering through federal fiscal year 2029 covers about 300 more projects and $1.6 billion more than the previous version. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Stitt plans trip to Mexican border; critics decry it as a publicity stunt: Gov. Kevin Stitt plans to join 10 of his GOP counterparts at the Mexican border Wednesday. One state lawmaker dubbed it “a publicity stunt,” but a spokesperson for Stitt said Oklahoma has been adversely affected by illegal immigration. Stitt plans to travel to the border town of Mission, Texas, along with governors of Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wyoming. He will get a briefing from the Texas Department of Public Safety and tour the border, his office said Monday. [The Norman Transcript]

(Audio) Long Story Short Podcast: Explaining Redistricting, Rights of the Condemned: In Episode 5 of Long Story Short (listen below), three Oklahoma Watch journalists share findings and insights from their latest stories with host executive director Ted Streuli. [Oklahoma Watch]

House committee studies bill requiring civics education: State legislators took a deeper look at the standards and quality of Oklahoma’s civics education during an interim study last month. “It’s important that Americans understand the fundamental concepts of our government, whether it’s the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, separation of powers, federalism, voting procedures, or contacting one’s representative,” said Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, who requested the study heard by the House Higher Education and Career Tech Committee. [The Lawton Constitution]

Federal Government News

Stillwater to host Afghanistan refugees with help of veteran: A retired Army colonel is helping the city of Stillwater prepare to host dozens of refugee families from Afghanistan. U.S. Army Col. Mike FitzGerald, a 20-year veteran and current operations manager for Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma, says the first families are expected to start arriving Nov. 1. [AP News]

Tribal Nations News

Many hopeful that focus on missing Indigenous women may pay off: Duane Garvais-Lawrence pulled into Washington, D.C., on Friday, ending his second annual coast-to-coast trip to bring attention to the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women — a trip he hopes he does not have to make again. [Cronkite News / NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Commissioners appoint Chad Alexander to jail trust: By a 3-0 vote this morning, the Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners appointed local radio host and lobbyist Chad Alexander to the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, otherwise known as the jail trust. “The jail is an issue that I’ve followed closely and one that I am passionate about,” Alexander told NonDoc after the vote. [NonDoc] Calvey said Alexander is well-qualified for the job as a supporter of Right on Crime, a conservative criminal justice reform group, and Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. [The Oklahoman] As usual, several members of the public attended Monday’s meeting to voice their frustration with the Jail Trust, and with the BoCC as the governing body supervising the County, and to specifically address Calvey’s proposed appointee to the Trust, Chad Alexander. [OKC Free Press]

Tulsa County Jail to serve as city’s overflow lockup under new agreement: The City of Tulsa and the Tulsa County Sheriff have reached an agreement for inmates over the municipal jail’s limit to be held at the county jail. The city jail has 25 beds for men and five for women, and it can hold people for up to 10 days on local charges like public intoxication or shoplifting. Tulsa Police Capt. Richard Meulenberg said TPD previously had agreements to take prisoners over the municipal jail’s limit to facilities outside of Tulsa County. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma police most deadly of all 50 states study shows: A peer-reviewed study produced by The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most renowned medical journals, found that Oklahoma has the highest mortality rate of police violence of all 50 states from 1980 through 2018. Oklahoma also lead in the highest rate of underreporting the killings out of all 50 states. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Education News

Epic founders ‘gaslit a lot of people, and it’s time to stop,’ new chairman says of charter school financials: Epic Charter Schools’ new governing board chairman told lawmakers Monday that they had been “gaslighted” for years by Epic’s recently ousted founders, suggesting that they now would be open to legislation intended to prevent millions in taxpayer dollars from being paid to “grifters.” [Tulsa World] Paul Campbell, who has led Epic’s school board since May, gave a scorched-earth address to the House Common Education Committee on Monday about Epic’s termination of its co-founders, Ben Harris and David Chaney. [The Oklahoman]

OKCPS Board of Ed hires temp service to provide substitute teachers: Oklahoma City Public Schools now joins other surrounding districts in hiring Kelly Education, a division of Kelly Services Inc., to provide all substitute teacher services for the district. District officials say that the rate of pay for substitutes will not change and the district will pay Kelly Education additional money as a contractor to provide substitute teachers for the district. [Free Press OKC]

‘Not the full picture’: Garfield Co. schools attribute lowered proficiency scores to pandemic: Local school districts this weekend acknowledged that the unusual circumstances from the COVID-19 pandemic influenced a general decline in students’ proficiency on basic subjects last spring. [Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Full funding in place for $90 million rebuild of south OKC’s I-240 and I-35 junction [The Oklahoman]
  • OKC’s first Native American-owned brewery opens new location in Automobile Alley [The Oklahoman]
  • March for reproductive rights held in OKC [The Oklahoman]
  • City to begin Love’s reimbursements, attempt to acquire tribal land through eminent domain [Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“So hopefully with the increased amount of immunity we’re getting with vaccinations and people’s intention to protecting themselves, we will see the downturn continue to make progress with this pandemic.”

-Dr. Mark Frost, chief medical officer for Saint Francis Health System, in warning people not to become complacent as the latest surge eases [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Number of youth, per 100,000 juveniles, who reside in juvenile detention, correctional and/or residential facilities in Oklahoma [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Eight Principles to Transform Care for Young People in the Justice System: A short video produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation identifies eight principles that every juvenile justice system should embrace right now to transform care for youth in custody. These principles are designed to help all young people realize their potential — regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, neighborhood or personal history. [Annie E. Casey Foundation]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.