In The Know: First weekend of shopping amid coronavirus in Oklahoma; most states still far short of testing thresholds; and 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. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Note: During the pandemic, OK Policy will be publishing In The Know on Saturdays and Sundays in order to keep our subscribers up to date on the latest information going on in the state and the nation.  

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma enters first weekend of shopping amid coronavirus: Oklahoma went into its first weekend of a reopened economy during the coronavirus pandemic as residents were allowed to return to restaurants, mall and other stores. State health officials reported eight new deaths and 103 new infections on Saturday, even as tempers flared in some parts of the state over restrictions still in place. [AP News] Two days into Oklahoma’s reopening, the open signs are on for many retail shops and restaurants, but normalcy is hit and miss. [Tulsa World] In Lawton, restaurants prepare to reopen dining areas, but not all agree timing is right. [The Lawton Constitution]

AP: Most states fall short of coronavirus testing thresholds: As more states begin to relax their coronavirus lockdowns, most are falling short of the minimum levels of testing suggested by the federal government and recommended by a variety of public health researchers, an Associated Press analysis has found. [AP News] As Oklahoma starts to reopen its economy, here’s what health experts say the state needs to do. [The Frontier]

Coronavirus in Oklahoma: 3,972 confirmed cases, 238 deaths: Oklahoma’s number of positive COVID-19 cases now stands at 3,972, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Oklahoma remained at 238 as the Health Department listed no new deaths in its Sunday report. [The Oklahoman] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma.

State Government News

Oklahoma Capitol to reopen to public on Monday as Legislature will reconvene: The state Capitol will reopen to the general public again when the Legislature reconvenes Monday, but visitors will still face restrictions for at least the next two weeks. Events, tours and large groups still will be banned when the building reopens 10 a.m. Monday. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle] State Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall said in a joint statement late Friday that the public can enter the building starting at 10 a.m. after being screened and under social distancing and health safety protocols. [AP News] As legislators return to the Capitol to work on the state budget, it will be important to think creatively about how the state can inject more resources into the state’s economy and build the confidence that leads to a quicker recovery.

Oklahoma AG refiles opioid litigation in rural county: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter refiled lawsuits Friday against three opioid distributors in one of the state’s counties hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. [ABC News]

Federal Government News

Cherokees, other tribes sue alleging unpaid COVID-19 relief: The Cherokee Nation joined five other tribal governments in filing suit against the U.S. Department of the Treasury over the distribution of federal COVID-19 relief funds, federal court records show. [Tulsa World]

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole joins representatives in calling for financial support for local newsrooms: U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and other representatives have called on President Donald Trump and House leadership to direct financial support and aid opportunities toward local newsrooms across the country. [The Norman Transcript]

HUD to allocate $6.7 million to protect Oklahoma public housing residents: HUD will allocate $6,707,169 in COVID-19 relief funding to help low-income Americans in Oklahoma who live in public housing, announced the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. [FOX25]

Here’s how unemployed and furloughed workers can apply for federal benefits: The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission on Friday released updated guidance on how traditional and non-traditional workers out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic can be approved for unemployment funds plus $600 per week. [Tulsa World] Our analysis has called for Oklahoma to take the opportunity presented by the CARES Act to reestablish the state’s work-share program to better help workers who still have jobs, but with reduced hours.

Health News

Citing Violent Threats Against Business Employees, Stillwater Mayor Ends Mandatory Face Mask Order: On Friday, as Oklahoma began easing restrictions set in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the city of Stillwater abruptly ended an order that business patrons wear face coverings, citing threats against employees. [TIME] Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce released the amended emergency proclamation just 16 hours after it was enacted, in response to concerns voiced by residents and the proprietors of businesses, according to a City of Stillwater release. [CNHI via Stillwater News Press] Within a few hours of the requirement going into effect on Friday, “store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse,” Norman McNickle, the city manager, said in a statement. “In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm.” [New York Times]

Survey: Oklahoma among top states complaining of depression and anxiety amid coronavirus: May 1st kicks of Mental Health Awareness Month. Health Trends put together a map that identified the top ten states complaining of depression and anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic. [FOX25] Our policy analysis shows Medicaid expansions is the most practical way to address Okahoma’s mental health crisis.

Economic Opportunity

Opinion: What a broken leg tells us about civilization: Are we civilized in this country? Sure we are — if you can afford to buy your way in. But, those who don’t have the key of wealth are increasingly left behind to die preventable deaths. [Opinion / Enid News & Eagle]

Americans grapple with risking their health to return to work: Seth Amos, 24, of Oklahoma City, told ABC News that he fears returning to work, too. “It doesn’t seem like the states care about people’s health. It just seems like everyone’s just worried about one thing and that’s money, instead of people’s lives,” Amos said. [ABC News] The National Employment Law Project has noted that “it is concerning that states are ‘re-opening’ their economies and encouraging workers to go back to work. If shutting off access to unemployment insurance is any motivator behind this decision, it is sure to backfire.”

Column: The ramifications for the food supply: Closings have resulted in shortages of food on the home-cooking aisles and spoiled food that was produced for single-contract buyers, such as farm-to-table school lunch programs and restaurant wholesalers, as consumers shift from eating out to cooking at home. The supply chain is going through a big shakeup. [Column / Tahlequah Daily Press]

Farmers and ranchers carry on as they face added coronavirus-based challenges: Farmers and ranchers deal with catastrophic droughts, floods and fires carrying a life-sustaining optimism they share with us as we consume the crops and livestock they raise to feed the nation and the world. [The Oklahoman] Tucked inside a $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package signed into law nearly a month ago are funds designed to help farmers, ranchers and the food supply chain to survive the pandemic’s blow. But farmers who grow wheat, one of the largest commodities in Oklahoma, could be left out. [Gaylord News via Enid News & Eagle]

Reopened dining rooms do little to clarify restaurant industry outlook: On Friday, Stella was among early adopting restaurants that reintroduced limited dining room service on the first day since Gov. Kevin Stitt and Mayor David Holt lifted their stay at home and shelter in place orders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Oklahoma County Election Boards Absentee Ballots May Surge This Year: County election boards said they’re preparing for a surge in absentee voting this year because of COVID-19. But Oklahomans trying to cast their vote that way could run into a big problem. The state is one of only three in the nation that requires a mail-in ballot to be sent with a notarized affidavit in-person. And, there’s a limit to the number of ballots each notary can process. [NewsOn6]

Oklahoma Media Center to foster local news collaboration: An Oklahoma news collaborative is being developed to foster collaborative local news content for outlets in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and elsewhere in the state. [AP News]

Language gives Muscogee their strength: “Our language and ways are from where our strength comes,” said Dana Tiger, an artist and registered Muscogee tribal member. The Muscogee (Creek) have kept their languages alive since the period of A.D. 900-1000. [Gaylord News via Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC Municipal Court rescheduling cases [The Journal Record]
  • Health department hosts testing site in NE OKC [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma City metro area venues to delay reopening until safer times [The Oklahoman]
  • Greenwood investors happy to help city find new home for Greenwood Rising History Center [Tulsa World]
  • Salon owners sue Norman mayor over reopening [The Oklahoman]
  • 1 additional Cleveland County death [The Norman Transcript]
  • Texas County has 5th highest number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma [ABC7]
  • OSDH: Garfield County has 1 of state’s 103 new cases; state sees decline in numbers in past week [Enid News & Eagle]
  • OSDH: 38 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Grady County, 25 recoveries, 2 deaths [The Express-Star]

Quote of the Day

“It doesn’t seem like the states care about people’s health. It just seems like everyone’s just worried about one thing and that’s money, instead of people’s lives.”

–Seth Amos, a server in Oklahoma City who says that despite his own health concerns, he plans to return to work in the coming weeks. [ABC News]

Number of the Day


Percent of typical reading growth students are likely to retun to school with for fall 2020 compared to a full year.

[Source: NWEA Research]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Heartbreaking Choices Faced by Child Care Providers on the Front Lines: They were already holding up the economy while operating on razor-thin margins. Now, they are taking care of the children of essential workers as costs and obstacles mount. [The Nation]

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.