In The Know: Gov. eyes surgery restrictions, not masks, as next step | More cities implement mask orders | City, county officials paint dire picture

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

Stitt: Next course of action halting elective surgeries, not mask mandate: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday said if COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to climb, his next course of action will likely be to sign an executive order limiting elective procedures at hospitals. He also reiterated that he has no plans to issue a statewide mask mandate, despite evidence that mask ordinances are slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the Oklahoma cities in which they have been adopted. [The Oklahoman] The governor’s comments came during a briefing with reporters at the Capitol on Thursday after similar press conferences held by Tulsa and Oklahoma City mayors in response to COVID-19 surges in their areas. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma governor’s holiday plans flout CDC, virus surge [AP News]
  • COVID-19: 2,915 new cases, 18 more deaths reported in Oklahoma [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • OKC mayor, officials paint dire COVID-19 picture [NonDoc] | [The Oklahoman] | [The Journal Record] | [OKC Free Press]
  • Mayor Bynum: No lockdown is being considered, but mask order penalties and event size limits are possible next week [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa County on trend for 5% infected by December, Dart says in local COVID-19 update [Tulsa World]
  • Crowded church concert demonstrates limitations of city’s current COVID-19 rules, Tulsa mayor says [Tulsa World]
  • Active virus cases in Oklahoma exceed 30,000 for first time [The Journal Record]
  • Active virus cases in Carter County reach another high, statewide trends show COVID-19 rapidly spreading [Daily Ardmoreite]

Grove council mandates masks: In a 3-1 vote, the Grove City Council voted Tuesday to mandate mask-wearing during the current COVID outbreak. Mayor Trumbull said that Gov. Kevin’s Stitt’s Chief of Staff Bond Payne had called him on Tuesday, urging the city to pass a mask [mandate]. He noted that Payne said the governor believed that it should be a local decision and does not support a statewide mask ordinance. However, Payne told the mayor the governor “urged us to pass a mask mandate.” [Grand Lake News]

Cherokee Chief Op-Ed: “We need a statewide mask mandate to save lives”: It is long overdue for the state of Oklahoma to enact a statewide mask mandate. The Centers for Disease Control recommends it, the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommends it, and the Oklahoma State Medical Association recommends it. Already, 35 other states have statewide mask mandates, including every one of Oklahoma’s surrounding states except Missouri. Statewide mandates were most recently adopted in Utah and North Dakota. This is not a partisan or a political issue; it is a matter of life and death. [Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Op-Ed / Skiatook Journal]

  • Tulsa Union School Superintendent Kirt Hartzler Op-Ed: It is time to do the right thing. Mask up, Oklahoma [Op-Ed / Tulsa World

Health News

COVID cases rise, straining hospital staff: With a rising infection rate in Oklahoma, Dr. Scott Michener, chief medical officer at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, knew the hospital was scarce for lifesaving equipment and at some point would run out. [Southwest Ledger]

Face coverings expose information divide: Recent debates at Muskogee City Hall about adopting a mask mandate to curb increased transmission of the novel coronavirus throughout the community highlighted diverse views about the topic. Public input also introduced conflicting information about the use of face coverings to mitigate community spread of the virus and flatten the curve on the number of new COVID-19 cases. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Depression, thoughts of self-harm increased in Oklahoma adolescents, teens through extended isolation: As surging coronavirus cases prompt extended virtual learning throughout Oklahoma, mental health experts report adolescents and teens are experiencing higher than normal depression or feelings of self-harm. [KFOR]

State Government News

Oklahoma unemployment claims decline for 21st consecutive week: Initial and continued unemployment claims continued to decline, with the four-week moving average down for the 21st consecutive week, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported on Thursday. Since last week, continued claims dropped 25% and fell below 50,000 for the first time since the pandemic began. [The Journal Record]

State extends occupational license renewal period: Governor Stitt’s extension of the renewal period for occupational licenses until December 22 affects literally tens of thousands of Oklahomans. State Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn encourages anyone licensed by the Oklahoma Department of Labor to renew that license with the agency no later than its actual expiration date to avoid processing delays from anticipated high demand on/after December 22. [Southwest Ledger]

Dollens plans to “hold the majority accountable” in next legislative session: Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens won his race against Republican Mike Christian with over 57% of the vote in southside HD-93. This will be Dollens’ third time in office. [OKC Free Press]

Criminal Justice News

New jury trials halted in Tulsa County District Court through Jan. 11: Tulsa County jury trials will be suspended from the Thanksgiving holiday through Jan. 11 because of “the increase in COVID-19 infections,” officials confirmed Thursday. [Tulsa World] The memo lists jury trials and preliminary issue hearings as suspended from Nov. 25 until Jan. 11 of next year. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Appeals court upholds conviction in Tulsa child abuse murder case: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday upheld the conviction and life sentence of a former University of Tulsa running back convicted of abusing and killing his 6-week-old daughter. [The Frontier]

Lawton police shoot, kill man after reported home invasion: Lawton police officers shot and killed a man they say pointed a firearm at them following a home invasion, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation reported. [AP News]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma gambling makes a comeback: Casinos in Oklahoma appear to be recovering faster from pandemic-induced setbacks of 2020 than commercial and tribal gaming facilities in most other states. [The Journal Record]

AAA: 81% of Oklahomans staying home for Thanksgiving: A survey by AAA Oklahoma indicates that 81% of Oklahoma residents will not be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, and 34% of those staying home say it is because of COVID-19 concerns. [The Journal Record]

State looks to lure firms from Calif., other ‘anti-business’ locales: The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has taken notice of the growing interest in Oklahoma by people from states like California – so much so that they are working to attract those out-of-staters and hopefully get them to move themselves and their businesses permanently to the state of Oklahoma. [Southwest Ledger]

Education News

‘A miracle’: Survey shows Oklahoma schools are grateful to be open: More than three months into the school year, Oklahoma school districts say they’re encouraged in-person education has lasted this long, but many fear COVID-19 could force shutdowns again. [The Oklahoman]

  • Upper elementary grades in Tulsa Public Schools will remain in distance learning after Thanksgiving [Tulsa World]
  • Kendall-Whittier Elementary goes to distance learning [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Editorial: Stitt’s comments about TPS are inaccurate and hurtful to staff [Editorial / Tulsa World]

General News

Straight-party voting is going strong in Oklahoma: In the Nov. 3 election, 710,379 Oklahomans marked a box indicating their preference for straight-party voting in every race on their ballot without having to select each individual candidate. [NonDoc]

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo to serve third 1-year term, map project launches today: Tulsa native Joy Harjo will continue as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States for a third year, becoming only the second laureate to serve more than two one-year terms. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“Hope isn’t working. It’s time to get real.”

-Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt calling for residents to undertake a 10-day push to curb the spread of COVID-19 [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Native American women, on average, are paid approximately $0.60 for every dollar earned by White, non-Hispanic men. This gap in pay typically amounts to a loss of $2,055 every month or $24,656 every year, and adds up to $986,240 over a 40-year career.

[Source: National Women’s Law Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Covid-19 incidence more than triple among Native Americans, new CDC report says: The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Native American communities. The incidence of Covid-19 cases among American Indians and Alaska Natives was 3.5 times that among White people, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [CNN]

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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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