In The Know: DOC reports additional death as state virus total tops 80,000 | Our moral responsibility for Oklahoma prisons | 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

Policy Matters: Fulfilling our moral responsibility: Our state leaders toss around the phrase “Oklahoma Standard” frequently when they talk about our moral character when we collectively take action during times of crisis. For the life of me, though, I am trying to figure out why it’s taken six months to apply that standard for those working or living in Oklahoma prisons and jails. [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]

Oklahoma News

DOC: COVID-19-positive inmate dies in outbreak at Fort Supply prison: A William S. Key inmate who had tested positive for COVID-19 has died, as the Health Department announced 14 more deaths, with coronavirus the cause or a contributor, and an increase of 1,164 cases statewide Tuesday. Oklahoma Department of Corrections reported on its website Tuesday that cases of the virus at the minimum-security, open-dorm facility in Woodward County had risen to 784 — 56% of the overall cases among Oklahoma correctional facilities — and that one inmate had died, “possibly” from COVID-19. [Enid News & Eagle]

White House report: Oklahoma’s new coronavirus cases, test positivity remain high: Oklahoma continues to struggle with the spread of the coronavirus, according to the latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The state’s COVID-19 test positivity is the third-highest in the country and the state ranks sixth for new infections, a one-spot improvement from a week prior. [The Oklahoman]

  • White House: Oklahoma 3rd Worst In Nation For COVID Test Positivity, 6th Worst For New Cases [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Reported virus cases in Oklahoma surpass 80,000; 8 more deaths [The Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma sets new high in average for 3rd day in a row as total COVID cases break 80,000 [Public Radio Tulsa]

Census deadline approaching Sept. 30: The deadline to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census is just days away on Sept. 30. Take the time to fill out your census. It is money for greater things in our community. [Ponca Post]

  • Guest Opinion: Complete the Census: Important funding decisions are based on participation [Opinion / Tulsa World]
  • Census 2020: Beckham County Could Lose Millions in Federal Funding [KECO]

Health News

Pandemic taking a ‘sobering’ toll on Oklahomans’ mental health: The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on Oklahomans’ mental health, a researcher told the Tulsa City Council on Wednesday. “It’s not that COVID has changed the mental health interventions we know we need,” said Zack Stoycoff, executive director of the Healthy Minds Policy Initiative, during a virtual meeting of the council’s urban and economic development committee. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma Guard gives mental health association CEO highest civilian honor: The Oklahoma National Guard has awarded Mental Health Association Oklahoma CEO Terri White its Medal of Freedom. It is the Oklahoma National Guard’s highest civilian honor. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Engaged: Medicaid expansion vote wasn’t as simple as urban versus rural: Back in June, Oklahoma voted to expand Medicaid through State Question 802. That vote determined that Oklahoma would open its Medicaid program, SoonerCare, to more adults. About 200,000 Oklahomans are expected to qualify for enrollment under Medicaid expansion. The Oklahoma Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank, did a deep dive into voting trends on State Question 802 and reached the conclusion that the urban versus rural breakdown was a myth. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

State Government News

Some employers to see hike in unemployment insurance rates: Some employers may see a slight increase in unemployment insurance, Shelley Zumwalt, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission executive director, said Wednesday. “For the majority of them, the rate increase will not be significant,” Zumwalt said. [The Oklahoman]

Young Oklahoma lawmakers form Future Caucus: Republicans and Democrats in the Oklahoma Legislature share common goals and can find more common ground than many might realize, members of a newly formed Future Caucus believe. [The Journal Record]

Lawmakers study administrative rules process: A group of state legislators on Tuesday held an interim study on the administrative rules process with the goal of analyzing potential improvements, changes or reforms so the Legislature is more involved in the process. [The Journal Record]

October hearing scheduled in state’s case against opioid distributors: Oklahoma lawsuits against a trio of prescription opioid distributors are moving forward in Bryan County District Court after a federal judge rejected an attempt by one of the companies to move its case to federal court. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Mental health crisis experts to join Tulsa 911 dispatchers: Tulsa-area 911 callers in psychiatric distress will now have access to a mental health professional, thanks to a partnership between city public safety agencies and community nonprofits. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa man sues state after wrongful murder conviction resulting in imprisonment for 28 years: A Tulsa man who was declared actually innocent last year after spending 28 years in prison for first-degree murder filed a lawsuit against the state seeking damages for his wrongful conviction. [Tulsa World]

Man arrested in connection with his mother’s death found hanging in Tulsa County jail cell: A man facing a murder complaint in the death of his elderly mother was found hanging in the Tulsa County jail on Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Group opposes State Question 805, says changes will increase crime: A group opposing State Question 805 officially launched a campaign Wednesday to discourage voters from supporting the measure in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 general election. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Food in a desert: new grocer set to ease east side grocery woes: East Oklahoma City will see a supermarket return to the community as construction begins next month on a new Homeland. A predominantly Black community, the east side has been without a full-size grocer since August 2019. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

More meat plants eyed for rural Oklahoma: Rural communities in Oklahoma are poised to get some economic spark related to investment in meat processing facilities. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has been in touch with several dozen potential investors interested in building new processing plants or expanding facilities. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Claremore sees new COVID peak, says numbers may be credited to schools opening: As of Tuesday, Rogers County has seen a total of 1,729 confirmed cases and 49 deaths. This is compared to 1,683 confirmed cases and 48 deaths reported on Monday, a 46 case increase day-over-day, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Colleges report enrollment drops during pandemic: Bacone College officials were bracing for the worst heading into the fall semester. With the COVID-19 pandemic ramping up, officials with the small private Muskogee college projected nearly 15 percent of students would likely sit out the school year. [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press]

OU not requiring test scores on applications through 2025: Submitting scores from a test like the ACT or SAT will be optional for students applying to the University of Oklahoma for the next five years. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Meeting the needs of students as a first-year teacher: The first year of teaching can be stressful for any educator, but a school year starting in the midst of a pandemic has presented multiple uphill battles for Oklahoma’s first-year teachers to overcome. [NonDoc]

General News

‘Killing Pain’: Documentary series wins regional Emmy Awards for chronicling Oklahoma’s opioid crisis: A new episode of “Killing Pain” debuted in spring as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take its toll on Oklahomans already living the opioid epidemic. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Norman City Council rejects Sean Boyd as nominee, irritates Unite Norman [NonDoc]
  • Norman councilor files legal challenge to recall [Norman Transcript] | [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman City Council requires masks at indoor house parties [AP News]
  • Four Oklahoma highway weigh stations closed to deal with COVID-19 issues [The Oklahoman]
  • OU student-athletes rally for racial justice, equality [Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“Every hurdle you might have as a first-year teacher in the classroom is amplified by 10.”

-Anna Homan, a first-year eighth-grade pre-algebra teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Oklahoma City, describing her experience as a first-year teacher with virtual learning [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma adults who reported that children in their household weren’t eating enough because they couldn’t afford enough food. Data collected from August 19 to September 14, 2020.

[Source: U.S. Census Household Pulse Data analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

New data: Millions struggling to eat and pay rent: Millions of households are having serious trouble affording food and are falling behind on the rent, the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey for September 2-14 shows. Twenty-three million adults reported that their household didn’t get enough to eat, and an estimated 1 in 4 renters with children lived in a household that was behind on rent. Also, data for August show that some 35 million people — including 9 million children — either met the federal definition of “unemployed” (which understates the actual number of jobless workers) or lived with an unemployed family member, according to Census’ latest Current Population Survey. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

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.