In The Know: Eviction crisis imminent statewide | Oklahoma County Jail Trust allots CARES Act Funds | Early research on local mask mandates

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

No matter how we fund it, Medicaid expansion will be the best investment we’ve ever made: Oklahomans on June 30 approved State Question 802, which amended the Oklahoma Constitution to expand Medicaid to low-income adults. Now it’s time to take the next step in implementing that promise. Funding expansion will be a key issue for the Legislature to tackle this spring. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Policy Matters: Justice reform efforts deliver results: In light of ongoing justice reform measures, this is a good time to reflect upon the effectiveness of other recent efforts. Open Justice Oklahoma, a program of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, last week published an analysis on burglary sentencing reforms implemented by Senate Bill 786, which reduced sentencing guidelines for many second-degree burglary charges by creating a less severe third-degree burglary category. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Wave of evictions imminent statewide: Nonprofits and municipalities are bracing for as many as 500,000 Oklahomans – roughly 13% of the population – to be facing eviction from their homes next week. And as evictions and homelessness create a ripple of demand for other services, nonprofits need to anticipate the surge in human needs and advocate for legislative and policy changes, nonprofit leaders said Wednesday. [The Journal Record] OK Policy Analysis: While we cannot legislate away the pandemic, we can better structure and operate our justice system to ensure that every tenant knows their rights and understands the process. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma County commissioners give jail $34 million despite protests: Oklahoma County commissioners pushed through final approval to provide $34 million in CARES Act funding to the county jail for COVID-19 expenses despite protests during an unusually quick and tense meeting Wednesday. [The Oklahoman] The meeting concluded without allowing public comment. The original number being discussed up to the meeting was $36 million but for reasons not yet known the number voted on was $34 million. [Free Press OKC] Residents attending the meeting were furious the board approved the transfer without hearing public comment. [KOSU] A public forum was held by the Jail Trust at 3:00 pm that afternoon, after the vote. [Free Press OKC] More than 20 speakers vented their frustrations. [The Oklahoman]

  • Second Oklahoma County jail inmate with virus dies: A second Oklahoma County jail inmate has died at a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. Roosevelt Larry Knox, 65, of Oklahoma City, was hospitalized Friday and was being treated for a number of health conditions, The Oklahoman was told. He died early Wednesday after signing a do-not-resuscitate form. [The Oklahoman]

COVID-19: 17 deaths, 597 more cases reported across Oklahoma: The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 597 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday and announced another 17 people have died from the virus. Two of those deaths were reported in Tulsa County, both men over the age of 65, while the county added 149 more cases. Wednesday’s case numbers bring the state to 49,923 cases and 699 deaths since the pandemic began. [Tulsa World]

  • Health expert discusses recent high number of coronavirus-related deaths reported in Oklahoma [KOCO]
  • Positive COVID antigen tests not recorded as confirmed cases by state [News9]

Early research shows Oklahoma cities with mask mandates have lower positivity rate than those with no policy: Early data show that cities with mask mandates are finding success in tamping down the spread of COVID-19 in Oklahoma, according to OU-Tulsa’s chair of medical informatics. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Death toll at Claremore Veterans Center rises to 35 in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak: The Claremore Veterans Center has seen a huge jump in deaths in COVID-19-related deaths. The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday said there have been 35 patient deaths and 128 patient positive cases at the 302-bed facility. Thirteen have recovered, the agency said. [Tulsa World] The agency has previously said that the death total counts those who have died after a positive test for the virus, and that it may not have been the direct cause of death. [Public Radio Tulsa]

CDC data show disproportionate COVID-19 impact in American Indian/Alaska Native populations: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study that specifically examines how COVID-19 is affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) – one of the racial and ethnic minority groups at highest risk from the disease. [CDC / Muskogee Phoenix]

State & Local Government News

Extra $300 in jobless payments won’t be issued for 4 to 5 weeks, officials say: The federal government has approved Oklahoma’s request to offer an additional $300 a week in federal assistance to unemployed Oklahomans. State officials say it will be four to five weeks before the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission can start issuing the additional payments. [The Oklahoman] The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported a 6.6% statewide unemployment rate for June, which is the most recent month for which figures are available. July’s jobless figures are due out Friday. [The Journal Record]

Gov. Stitt meets with Moore business owners Wednesday: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt reiterated a message to a group of Moore business owners on Wednesday — the economy must remain open. Stitt met with business owners who have received grant funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. [The Norman Transcript]

Pandemic aid boosts sales tax revenue: Muskogee recorded in August its second-largest monthly deposit of sales tax revenue since February 2008, just before a global financial collapse fueled by subprime mortgages and a real estate bubble. Officials attribute the better-than-projected revenue to federal aid made available to cushion the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. [CNHI via Muskogee Phoenix]

Interim study looks at meeting education needs: State Reps. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, and Mark McBride, R-Moore, held two interim studies on Wednesday before the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education, over which they serve as chair and vice-chair respectively. [The Lawton Constitution]

Economic Opportunity

Survey: Oklahomans are searching for loans in high numbers: In a new WalletHub survey released Wednesday, Oklahoma ranks second in the nation for people who are searching for loans the most. To identify the states where people need loans the most during the coronavirus pandemic, WalletHub looked at the month of July and combined internal credit report data with Google search increases for three loan-related terms in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. [The Journal Record] OK Policy Analysis: Changes taking effect this month in Oklahoma will offer higher dollar loans, but at a significant long-term cost. Just like the payday loans they replace, installment loans are designed to trap borrowers in long-term debt. [OK Policy]

Nonprofit helping survivors of domestic violence is seeing uptick in Tulsa during pandemic: Domestic Violence Intervention Services reported a 22% increase in crisis line calls the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2019, and Tulsa Police handled 192 more domestic violence calls from January through July 2020 than in the same span of 2019. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Chris Bernard: Keep businesses open, employees paid and families fed. It’s a SNAP: Whether a global pandemic, natural disaster, disability or under-employment, SNAP has supported thousands of Oklahomans who find themselves in crisis. In a normal year, SNAP stimulates our economy to the tune of nearly $1 billion which creates nearly $1.7 billion in local economic activity. [Chris Bernard Opinion / Tulsa World] OK Policy Analysis: SNAP is one of the most effective ways to reach low-income families and SNAP benefits should be temporarily increased for the duration of this economic downturn. [OK Policy]

Education News

Bartlesville High School to close for deep clean after student, staff test positive for COVID-19: Bartlesville High School will be closed Thursday for a deep cleaning after students and staff tested positive for COVID-19, the district reported. Students will undergo distance learning for the day as well as on Friday, which was already scheduled as such, according to a news release. No other Bartlesville schools will be closed Thursday. [Tulsa World]

  • Coyle Superintendent tests positive for COVID-19; school closing temporarily [Enid News & Eagle] | [AP News]
  • Moore High School student tests positive for COVID-19 after attending classes [FOX25]
  • Local health officials release checklist for parents, guardians before sending children to school [KOCO]
  • PPE delivered to southeast Oklahoma schools [McAlester News Capital]
  • Local, area counties receive PPEs [Muskogee Phoenix]

General News

As G.T. Bynum goes for second mayoral term Tuesday, Greg Robinson seeks to upend him: In less than a week, Tulsans will decide whether G.T. Bynum may serve another four-year term as mayor. It’s been Bynum’s dream job since he was a kid, and as he nears the end of his first term, he still believes it’s the highest calling of any elected office. [Tulsa World]

Grant-winners will give virtual tours of Oklahoma’s historic black communities: For years, André Head and his wife, Jessilyn Hall Head, have worked to educate people about Oklahoma’s 13 historic black towns with annual visits and tours. The coronavirus epidemic temporarily halted those trips, but with a little help, they’ll soon have an option to take people on virtual tours using augmented reality. [The Oklahoman]

Census takers to start visiting nonresponding households in Oklahoma: Census takers in Oklahoma are working to follow up with households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. The self-response rate in Oklahoma is under 60 percent. The Census Bureau will need to visit the remaining addresses to collect responses in person. [The Walters Herald]

OICA offers census challenge: Across the United States, more than 63% of households have completed their U.S. census forms. In Oklahoma, however, it is a different story altogether. Barely 58% of Oklahoma households have completed their census forms, putting at risk hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars Oklahomans will have paid to Washington, but might not get back in critical population-based services. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Stillwater adds restrictions for bars after videos show crowds near OSU campus [Tulsa World]
  • ‘We need it to be working more efficiently, not less efficiently’: Tulsans rally at downtown post office in support of USPS services [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign to remain while city councilors examine options for retaining it [Tulsa World]
  • OKC Protester faces gun charge [The Oklahoman]
  • Cleveland County sheriff runoff candidates want to increase presence and trust [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“The reality is we’re not going to be able to spend our way out of this crisis. We need to change that business model where people are making a profit on the backs of their neighbors.”

– Jeff Jaynes, executive director of Restore Hope Ministries, on addressing one of the root causes of Oklahom’s eviction crisis [The Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma adults in households where there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the last 7 days.

[Source: Census Bureau]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why hunger can grow even when poverty doesn’t: How could hunger soar if poverty does not? The possible explanations shed light on how people are faring in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And they bear on the deadlocked policy debate between Congress and the Trump administration over whether to continue expanded jobless benefits, which expire in several days. [New York Times]

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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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