In The Know: COVID hospitalizations on the rise | State sues Biden administration over vaccine mandate | A Tale of Two Medicaid Expansions

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.

Oklahoma News

3-day average of Oklahoma COVID-19 hospitalizations tops 500: The rolling three-day average number of Oklahoma COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 500 on Thursday for the first time since late October, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said. The department reported a three-day average of 515 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 158 under intensive care. [AP News]

  • COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma show sharp increase [The Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma County hits 1 million dose milestone in COVID-19 vaccines administered [The Oklahoman]

COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Air National Guard spurs Oklahoma lawsuit: Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor sued the Biden administration Thursday over a requirement that all National Guard members get vaccinated for COVID-19. [The Oklahoman] The Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General has asked a federal court to grant a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction followed by a permanent injunction, preventing the Biden Administration from enforcing the vaccine mandate, according to a press release from the state Attorney General’s office. [The Lawton Constitution] Additionally, the lawsuit seeks to block the Biden administration from withholding federal funding from the Oklahoma National Guard or its members. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma senator wants to keep payments flowing to Oklahoma National Guard members during vaccine dispute [CNHI via Norman Transcript]

A Tale of Two Medicaid Expansions: Oklahoma Jumps In, While Missouri Lags: Temp worker James Dickerson applied for Medicaid because it will be cheaper than his current health plan. Home health aide Sharon Coleman looks forward to having coverage that will cover a hospital stay. Incoming medical student Danielle Gaddis no longer worries a trip to the doctor will leave her in debt. All three are among the roughly 490,000 people newly eligible for Medicaid after Oklahoma and Missouri voters in 2020 approved expanding the federal-state public health insurance program for people with low incomes. [Kaiser Health News]

State Government News

(Audio) Vaccination waiver denied, new Oklahoma County jail considered, executions pending and more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the U.S. Secretary of Defense denying a request from Gov. Kevin Stitt of a COVID-19 vaccination waiver and a federal judge putting an injunction against vaccine mandates against health care workers in facilities receiving Medicaid and Medicare funding. [KOSU]

Initial state jobless claims decline 62% from previous week: In a reverse of the prior week’s filings, initial claims for unemployment benefits in the state declined 62% the week ending Saturday, compared to the previous seven-day period, according to a government report. [Tulsa World]

State agency responding to growing cyber threats: With cyberattacks posing new and heightened threats around the globe, the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services is taking measures to address the growing problem. The office’s Oklahoma Cyber Command is providing cybersecurity strategies for the entire state, including individuals and private businesses. [The Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Chickasaw Nation faces resistance on request to exempt OKANA resort from city design review: The Chickasaw Nation is at odds with Oklahoma City’s riverfront design review committee as to whether the tribe’s $300 million resort should be exempted from design guidelines set up along the Oklahoma River. [The Oklahoman]

(Audio) The Source: Oklahoma tribes pushing university to return ancestral remains: More than a century after archeologists collected Native American remains and burial items from locations in the deep south for academic study, Oklahoma tribes are struggling to repatriate their own history from university archives. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Family of Oklahoma death row inmate begs Gov. Stitt to spare his life 8 days before scheduled execution: The son of a death row inmate delivered a letter and 10,000 signatures to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office Wednesday, in an attempt to save his father’s life a week before his scheduled execution. However, the family of Bigler Stouffer’s victim said they’ve heard all of this before and it’s time for the punishment to be carried out. [KFOR]

Death row inmate Wade Greely Lay may get execution delay because of competency questions: Death row inmate Wade Greely Lay has delusions that the true reason for his upcoming execution is to silence him from voicing beliefs that would spark a revolution, a psychologist has reported. [The Oklahoman]

(Audio) ‘Focus: Black Oklahoma’: Capital punishment, reproductive rights, Black WWII veterans: On this episode of Focus: Black Oklahoma, we dive into the complications and chemicals of capital punishment with Carlos Moreno, and Dr. Nick Alexandrov investigates healthcare as reparations. [KOSU]

Oklahoma County Presiding Judge Ray Elliott to retire: Presiding Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott will not seek re-election and has instead announced his intention to retire early next year. Elliott sent a letter to the state administrative director of the courts on Tuesday “as my official intent to retire effective February 1, 2022.” [NonDoc]

‘Break the cycle’: New degree plan offered by Oklahoma Christian to incarcerated women: Oklahoma Christian University announced Tuesday it’s tackling criminal justice reform in its own way with a new degree program aimed at helping incarcerated women better reintegrate into society after prison. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma meat processing and packing plant cited by OSHA for workplace safety issues: Seaboard Foods faces a citation issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that accuses it of failing to prevent workers at its meat processing and packing plant here from being exposed to repetitive motion injuries. [The Oklahoman] Seaboard Foods faces $27,306 in possible fines for failing to report and prevent injuries at its pork processing plants. [KOSU]

Report highlights potential for hydrogen in Oklahoma’s energy mix: Hydrogen could be a rich source of energy and of economic opportunity in Oklahoma in coming years, according to a report released this week by a state task force. [The Journal Record]

Education News

UCO faces a ‘daunting’ financial shortfall while rumors of faculty layoffs swirl: Some faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma fear their jobs are in jeopardy as the college grapples with a $15 million budget deficit. The university administration acknowledged the existence of the expected deficit, but denied speculation of extensive professor layoffs and has yet to answer how the shortfall will be addressed. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • MAPS 4 Board gets to work on two RFPs for potential project operators [OKC Free Press]
  • Local State of Economy keynote speaker sees optimism for Tulsa area [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa curbside recycling to restart in late January [Tulsa World]
  • Area nonprofits left out of new DHS TANF program awarding $27M statewide [Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“No one should ever have to worry about, ‘How long am I going to have to ride this out before I go to see what’s wrong?’ That’s how things get worse.”

-Danielle Gaddis, a 26-year-old Oklahoman who had been uninsured for two years before enrolling in Medicaid expansion this summer. When she was uninsured, she was reluctant to see a doctor during that time, fearing the medical bills. She starts medical school in August. [Kaiser Health News]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s three-day average of people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 158 under intensive care. This marked the first time since late October that the number was above 500. [Oklahoma State Department of Health via AP News]

Policy Note

Throwing Money at People—Not Corporations—to Come to Town: Tulsa pays remote workers to move there, and it’s proved to be a better strategy than paying corporations to relocate there. [The American Prospect

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.