In The Know: Gov. declares Thursday as day of prayer, fasting | Hospital workers describe ‘bleak’ conditions | State shattered virus records in October

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

How are Oklahoma children doing? Kyle Lawson, Together Oklahoma Senior Field Organizer, and Rebecca Fine, the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Education Analyst and KIDS COUNT coordinator, discuss what KIDS COUNT is and how data can be utilized by stakeholders. [OK Policy / YouTube] OK Policy is Oklahoma’s KIDS COUNT affiliate, 

Lawmakers filling committee chairs for upcoming session (Capitol Update): With interim studies, elections, and Thanksgiving now in the past, organizing for the next legislative session will get underway in earnest. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, have both been re-elected to their posts, so you can expect considerable stability in leadership and committee chairmanships in both bodies. Technically all committee chairmanships are up for appointment, but few are likely to change except where vacancies exist. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Stitt declares day of prayer and fasting for Oklahomans affected by COVID-19: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday issued a proclamation declaring Thursday as a day of prayer and fasting for Oklahomans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1,700 Oklahomans have died from complications of the virus and 197,745 in the state have contracted the virus since March. [The Oklahoman]

  • COVID-19: 2,200 new cases reported in Oklahoma with more than 1,700 hospitalized [Tulsa World] | [AP News]
  • Oklahoma continues late-year coronavirus surge, as hospitalizations remain at record high [The Frontier]
  • Oklahoma shatters monthly records for new COVID cases and deaths set in October [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma’s healthcare workers say COVID surge has made hospital atmospheres ‘bleak’: Skyrocketing COVID-19 cases across the state has led to packed hospitals and a shortage of intensive care unit beds. But possibly more pressing than the lack of space in metro-area hospitals is the burnout being seen among nurses and doctors who are working longer hours in increasingly unsafe conditions. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Cherokee Nation COVID-19 response subject of national press attention: Cherokee Nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is drawing praise from public health experts and attention in the national media. A recent feature story in STAT, a news outlet focused on health and medicine, quotes Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, as calling the tribe’s pandemic response “very impressive.” [Public Radio Tulsa]

More Oklahomans with Alzheimer’s are dying during COVID-19 pandemic: A new report finds a much higher percentage of people are dying from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia during this year’s pandemic than during the past several years. [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press]

State Government News

Stitt announces appointment of prosecutor for 3 counties: Gov. Kevin Stitt has announced the appointment of a new district attorney for three counties in southern Oklahoma. Tim Webster was appointed district attorney for District 19, which includes Atoka, Bryan and Coal counties. [AP News]

State Supreme Court gives local judges discretion, though two justices would close all courts: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has given state district courts the authority to determine their own coronavirus safety measures under Gov. Kevin Stitt’s most recent health emergency order, though two justices would close all courthouses. [The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers prepare for upcoming session as first Senate bill filed: After the COVID-19 pandemic stalled efforts at the state capitol building to pass various legislation, Oklahoma lawmakers will be working to reintroduce bills that were filed last year along with new bills to address issues that have risen in 2020. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Capitol Insider: State Capitol restoration nearing completion: The restoration team completed exterior work on the Oklahoma State Capitol in March, and now the Capitol Restoration Project is heading into its final phase. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

How the Biden Administration Could Influence Criminal Justice in Oklahoma: Three weeks before he was named the Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden released a comprehensive criminal justice reform plan. Though state and local governments are the primary funders and operators of law enforcement agencies, corrections and court systems, Biden’s administration could use federal grant money to push states towards enacting or modifying certain laws. [Oklahoma Watch]

Will lawmakers require state jails to cooperate with ICE?: Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey wants a judge to put off until April a ruling on whether the jail has to fully cooperate with immigration officers. Calvey had asked the judge to rule that the trust overseeing the jail is bound to follow a new ICE policy requiring cooperation. County commissioners approved the policy 2-1 on Oct. 5. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Ice storm leads to electrician costs: Some Oklahoma City families that were already financially disadvantaged going into 2020 faced setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic only to get surprised with one more large, unexpected bill – as much as $2,500 – caused by October’s ice storm. [The Journal Record]

Cherokee Nation Seeks To Improve Internet Access For Citizens: The Cherokee Nation is launching a new program to improve internet access for its citizens living on and off the reservation. Respond, Recover and Rebuild Mobile Hotspot Connectivity Assistance is a multi-million dollar program that will give Cherokee Citizens lacking internet up to a year of service. [KOSU]

Education News

Virtual charter schools are booming, despite a checkered reputation: Across the country, fully virtual K-12 charter schools have experienced a pandemic-induced “surge,” as one sector observer put it. K12 Inc., one of the biggest in the business, has reported a 57% enrollment increase, taking it up to 195,000 students; Connections Academy, another heavy hitter, has reported a 41% jump, and the list goes on. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Mustang Public Schools To Participate In Student Quarantine Pilot Program: Mustang Public Schools will allow students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine together in school. The district appears to be the first in the state to participate in a program announced by Oklahoma’s Department of Health that allows students to quarantine together in school. [KOSU]

‘It’s painful’: Tulsa Public Schools’ move to return to distance learning ‘not something we take lightly,’ leaders say: Using such expressions as “excruciating,” “agonizing” and “a gut punch” to describe it, district leaders talked in more detail Monday about the decision to return all Tulsa Public Schools students to distance learning. [Tulsa World] They will be on distance learning at least through Dec. 18, the last day before winter break. [Public Radio Tulsa]

General News

How one of the reddest states became the nation’s hottest weed market: Oklahoma is now the biggest medical marijuana market in the country on a per capita basis. More than 360,000 Oklahomans—nearly 10 percent of the state’s population—have acquired medical marijuana cards over the last two years. By comparison, New Mexico has the country’s second most popular program, with about 5 percent of state residents obtaining medical cards. Last month, sales since 2018 surpassed $1 billion. [Politico]

Nappy Roots: OKC Black-owned bookstore a site for advocacy, activism: Entering its third year of operation, Nappy Roots Books has taken a hit to its already slim sales margin, said store owner Camille Landry. The effects of the virus forced Nappy Roots to close temporarily in February. It reopened in June, but the store, and its sales, haven’t been the same since. [Gaylord News via NonDoc]

How a philanthropist shook up Oklahoma County politics, again: Philanthropist Sue Ann Arnall has confirmed she was involved in an effort to defeat Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor in the runoff election in August. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“They’re seeing death every day. They’re seeing people die, and, you know, in the past we had one patient dying a week, two patients dying a week. And now, we have four to five dying every day.”

-Dr. Mauoun Tawk of Mercy Hospital describing the draining effect from COVID-19 on hospital staff [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day

1 in 3

Oklahoma adults living in households with children who did not get needed medical care because of the coronavirus pandemic, July 2020.

[Source: KIDS COUNT Data Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book: The 31st edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® Data Book describes how children across the United States were faring before the coronavirus pandemic began. This year’s publication continues to deliver the Foundation’s annual state rankings and the latest available data on child well-being. It also identifies multi-year trends — comparing statistics from 2010 to 2018. As always, policymakers, researchers and advocates can continue using this information to help shape their work and build a stronger future for children, families and communities. [KIDS COUNT / Annie E. Casey Foundation] What Is KIDS COUNT? Watch Rebecca Fine, KIDS COUNT coordinator, talk about KIDS COUNT data and how it can be used by stakeholders.

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.