In The Know: Feds deliver rapid tests | Rogers County outbreak | Oklahoma’s vaccination plan

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

Feds to deliver 1.2M rapid coronavirus tests to Oklahoma: Federal officials plan to send Oklahoma nearly 1.2 million rapid coronavirus tests that can diagnose the infection in as few as 15 minutes, the White House announced on Monday. The tests will be distributed at the discretion of Gov. Kevin Stitt to support schools, nursing homes, critical infrastructure and first responders, the release said. [AP News]

  • OKC emergency management: COVID uptick due to community spread, not event [The Oklahoman]
  • COVID-19: 663 new cases, 2 more deaths reported in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases in Oklahoma see new highs [The Frontier]

Rogers County jail sees outbreak of COVID-19 cases: The Rogers County jail is recording its first outbreak of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, and officials are left scratching their heads as to how it crept in. Sheriff Scott Walton said he and other leaders were “extremely proud” that the jail population, which hovers around 230, boasted no positive tests until last week, but they all knew it was coming. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Who will get COVID-19 vaccination first? A look at Oklahoma’s plan: The Oklahoma State Department of Health has submitted a draft vaccination plan to the federal government that details how a COVID-19 vaccination, once available, will be distributed. The 51-page plan details in what order Oklahomans will be vaccinated. [The Oklahoman]

‘We’re headed in the wrong direction’: Saint Francis uses ad to ask for public’s help fighting COVID-19 amid record hospitalizations: Saint Francis Health System wants the communities it serves to know that COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending the wrong way and that individuals can help by practicing proper pandemic procedures. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma lawmaker seeks to ‘reorganize’ public school oversight: A scathing audit of Epic Charter Schools could lead to an attempted overhaul of public school oversight. Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, said she will file legislation to “reorganize” oversight of Oklahoma public schools during the Legislature’s 2021 session. [The Oklahoman] In an interview with the Tulsa World, Dills said it’s too early in the process of drafting legislation to provide many details. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s first public transit plan seeks $4.5B investment: State officials are looking for public feedback on Oklahoma’s first public transit plan through late November. Oklahoma Transit Authority Executive Director Mark Nestlen said it represents a significant investment to move Oklahoma far up the national rankings, much like the plan to address structurally deficient bridges in the state. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal Government News

Inhofe, Lankford vote to confirm Barrett to Supreme Court: Oklahoma Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford voted Monday to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining 50 fellow Republicans in replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a conservative a week before the presidential election. [The Oklahoman]

Appeals court tosses discrimination lawsuit against Cox: A federal appeals court on Friday threw out an employment discrimination lawsuit against Cox Communications in which a former employee claimed his supervisor’s stated intent to “hire diversity” was the real reason he was fired. Cox maintained the employee, a Caucasian man over the age of 40, was let go due to poor performance. [The Journal Record]

Election News

Opinion: Don’t give up your right to vote by not voting: It is undeniable that an election will come soon. Television ads, flyers in the mail, newspaper ads, a presidential debate and two town hall meetings broadcast simultaneously on different networks serve as constant reminders. From attack ads to state questions, information is everywhere and it is hard to separate fact from fiction. [Opinion / Tahlequah Daily Press]

  • Deadline to request absentee ballot for November general election is today [FOX25]
  • Mark your calendar: Early in-person voting is Thursday through Saturday [The Oklahoman]
  • Early voting begins Thursday at ONEOK Field [Tulsa World]
  • 2020 ‘Souls to the Polls’ voter turnout initiative will go on, despite COVID-19 [The Oklahoman]

Should Oklahoma reroute public health funding to pay for Medicaid expansion?: One of two state questions on the general election ballot, State Question 814 would reroute public health funding to Medicaid expansion. Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton with Oklahoma Engaged explains the proposal and where the money would come from. [KOSU]

Corporation Commission candidates a contrast in perspectives: Unlike most statewide elections, this year’s race for an Oklahoma Corporation Commission seat doesn’t pit a Democrat against a Republican. Instead, incumbent Corporation Commission Chairman Todd Hiett will face Libertarian Todd Hagopian in a race that could also be called the Battle of the Todds. [NonDoc]

P.D. Taylor endorses Wayland Cubit for OK County Sheriff: Outgoing Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor endorsed Wayland Cubit, a Democrat running for sheriff, on Monday ahead of the Nov. 3 election. [The Oklahoman]

  • Oklahoma County sheriff election: Tommie Johnson highlights new perspective, preparation in bid for sheriff [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma County sheriff election: Wayland Cubit focuses on trust, service in bid for sheriff [The Oklahoman]

Stephanie Bice leads Kendra Horn in 5th District race, new poll shows: Republican state Sen. Stephanie Bice leads U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn by 4.5 percentage points in the hotly contested 5th District congressional race, according to a new poll that shows President Donald Trump with an almost 10-point lead over Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. [The Oklahoman]

  • Despite backing tax hikes to fund teacher pay raises, 5th District candidate Stephanie Bice attacked on education [The Oklahoman]
  • Teacher unions endorse Congresswoman Kendra Horn in CD-5 race [OKC Free Press]

Criminal Justice News

Delaware County sheriff-elect’s educational history focus of CLEET hearing: An investigation into whether Delaware County’s sheriff-elect is allowed to take office may hinge on whether he has enough credit hours to have graduated from high school. [Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

Going, going, gone: Another public oil and gas operator in Oklahoma announces merger plans: In a move one analyst expects to see more of, Mid-Con Energy Partners announced Monday it is merging with Contango Oil & Gas. [The Oklahoman]

Fed: Energy jobs face grim forecast: Jobs in Oklahoma’s energy industry likely will continue to be lost through the beginning of next year, and overall employment numbers may not rebound to pre-pandemic levels for the foreseeable future – if at all – according to an assessment offered by the Oklahoma City Branch office of the Kansas City Federal Reserve. [The Journal Record]

Education News

TPS has lost about 3,000 students in past year; district says decline is largely due to pandemic: Tulsa Public Schools lost about 3,000 students in the past year, a significant decline that the district largely attributes to COVID-19. Administrators originally projected the loss of about 700 students between October 2019 and this month, in line with enrollment trends from the past decade. Instead, the number of departing students fell just short of 3,000 — nearly three times the average over the past three years. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“I certainly have a great concern for (detention officers’) well being, as well. It goes without saying that we do not have the staff that we need really on a day-to-day basis, let alone if we start getting people sick.”

–Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, speaking about his concern for the safety of all individuals inside the Rogers County jail during the COVID-19 outbreak. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of Oklahomans who are disenfranchised from voting due to a felony conviction.

[Source: OK Policy estimate based on Oklahoma Department of Corrections data about currently incarcerated and those who are on parole]

To read past OK Policy analysis on this issue, read “Felons and the right to vote.”

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Most people in jail can vote. Many of them don’t know it: There’s been a groundswell of support for laws restoring voting rights to people coming out of prison. But the vast majority of the 745,000 people held in local jails never lost the right to vote, since they are awaiting trial or are convicted of misdemeanors. Still, voting from jail is rare. Felony disenfranchisement laws and misinformation lead many people in jail to believe they cannot vote. Most jails don’t actively provide the necessary information to get people registered, voting rights advocates say. Logistical challenges abound. And this year, with some courts closed due to COVID-19, many more people could find themselves sitting in jail on Election Day. [The Marshall Project]

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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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