In The Know: Health officials: Hospitalizations near capacity | Local school officials say hands are tied by new state law | 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. 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

Concerns grow over bed capacity, rising COVID hospitalizations among young Oklahomans: The latest COVID-19 surge is affecting a younger population than previous waves did, and hospitals are having to contend with an influx of COVID-19 patients on top of an already busy summer, health leaders said Tuesday. On Tuesday, the three-day average for COVID-19 hospitalizations in Oklahoma was 841, including 246 in intensive-care units. Those levels now mirror what they looked like in February, when the state was still in the throes of a winter surge. [The Oklahoman]

  • Cherokee Nation suspends elective surgeries as health system sees surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations [Tulsa World]
  • Cherokee Nation experiencing COVID-19 hospitalization surge, new cases predominately unvaccinated patients [KFOR]
  • As COVID patients get younger and sicker, vaccine-hesitant Oklahomans need to re-evaluate, health care pros say [Tulsa World]
  • Are hospitals reaching max capacity? [The Lawton Constitution]
  • Oklahoma is reporting an average of 1,657 infections per day in the past week. [KOSU]
  • Under federal emergency, hospitals can reorder to cope with COVID surges [Public Radio Tulsa]

Poll: Oklahomans don’t want state involved in businesses’ vaccination decisions: About two-thirds of Oklahomans believe COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, but a majority think state government should stay out of businesses’ decisions about requiring vaccinations of employees, according to a recent poll. Some 65% of respondents agreed with the statement that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, while 27% disagreed. [Tulsa World] Only 47% of those questioned in the new poll said it was appropriate for government agencies serving the public to require workers to be vaccinated; 49% disagreed and 4% were undecided. [The Oklahoman

Local officials say hands tied by Senate bill restricting COVID response: With school about to begin and COVID cases rising to dangerous levels once again, Norman leaders and health experts are saying that their hands are tied when it comes to protecting students and Norman residents. Democrats in the state Legislature are urging Gov. Kevin Stitt to call a special session to repeal SB 658, a bill that prevents schools from implementing mask mandates and also prevents public schools and colleges from requiring students to get the COVID-19 vaccination. [The Norman Transcript]

  • Masks to be optional for Sand Springs Public Schools as start of classes looms amid surging COVID-19 pandemic [Sand Springs Leader]
  • Arkansas parents sue state over ban on school mask mandates — could other states be next? [Forbes]
  • Oklahoma State Supt. Joy Hofmeister about back to school, COVID-19 Delta Variant [News 9]
  • Oklahoma doctor does not expect session on virus masking [AP News] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • House Democrats call for special session to address COVID-19 crisis [The Journal Record]
  • COVID-19 information Oklahomans need to know [Tulsa World]
  • State party chair pushes baseless COVID theories [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Grading Oklahoma: Our state is 45th in education: Grading Oklahoma is a weekly look at how we stack up on a national scale. Each week, The Oklahoman features a different subject area to illustrate and examine on a closer level. This week’s ranking focuses on education. The ranking combines several educational indicators analyzed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, including children not in school, children not proficient in reading or math, and high school students not graduating on time. [The Oklahoman] Visit to see more links and resources about child well-being in Oklahoma.  

COVID-19 spike prompts Biden to launch new eviction ban: The Biden administration has created a new eviction ban that will run through October 3 for renters in communities with surging COVID-19 rates, which is more than 80% of counties across the U.S. States with the highest rates of Covid-19 cases are mostly concentrated in the South and include Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma. [Forbes]

  • Landlords, tenants fill courts as eviction moratorium ends [AP News / Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Social Services Hub for Tulsa County residents facing eviction opens for 90-day run [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World]
  • Great Plains Improvement Foundation assists Comanche County residents who face eviction [KSWO]

State Government News

Lawsuit alleges Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority violated public meeting laws: A new lawsuit alleges an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority board did not follow public meeting laws when it adopted emergency agency rules in June. The lawsuit filed Friday in Oklahoma County District Court alleges the Food Safety Standards Board did not follow the state’s Open Meeting Act when notifying the public of a special meeting. [The Oklahoman]

State agency Twitter accounts: The good, the surprising, the inactive: Did you know that Oklahoma has a Peanut Commission? I was sorely unaware. Sadly, it appears the commission doesn’t have a Twitter account, but luckily the Sorghum Commission does! [NonDoc]

Federal Government News

Fledgling prairie chicken review needs more time, Oklahoma lawmakers say: U.S. Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe don’t want the lesser prairie chicken to be added to a list of protected species in Oklahoma, claiming that placing the bird on the list would hurt business in the state. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

In Okmulgee, Muscogee Nation Council House highlights history: Anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of how Muscogee Nation citizens and Native Americans at large feel about their reservation sovereignty should take a trip to Okmulgee and tour the historic Muscogee Nation Tribal Council House in the center of town. [Joe Tomlinson / NonDoc]

Economic Opportunity

OKC Council delays vote on manufactured home community amid property value, crime concerns: A re-zoning request made in the hopes of building a manufactured home community has become controversial among constituents and city council members, leading to a deferred vote at Tuesday’s council meeting. [The Oklahoman

  • COVID, housing equity, fears of neighbors highlight City Council meeting [OKC Free Press]

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day addresses inequities for Black women: Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, in recognition of the fact that Black women make 63 cents for every dollar earned by a White man, took place on Tuesday, August 3. [The Black Wall Street Times

Economy & Business News

‘Craft Beer Trail’ could drink in profits: In the past decade, craft breweries have brewed up popularity in Oklahoma, going from just three independent breweries in 2008 to more than 60 today. In addition, the craft beer industry now has an economic impact of more than $700 million in Oklahoma alone, and the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Agritourism say tourism could drive that number even higher. [The Journal Record]

Education News

TCC using COVID relief funding to pay off student debts, offer ‘clean slate’: Hoping to help students who’ve been adversely affected by the pandemic stay in school, Tulsa Community College is dedicating a portion of its federal COVID aid to forgiving their debts. [Tulsa World]

High school administrators, OSSAA hoping for ‘normal’ fall but prepared to adjust due to COVID-19: Athletes, coaches and administrators at high schools across the state are preparing for the start of the 2021-22 athletic season. Cross country, fall baseball, fast-pitch softball and volleyball begin contests next week while football games start at the end of the month. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Editorial: Oklahoma GOP leader embarrasses state, his party by comparing Holocaust to vaccination push: Oklahoma Republican Chairman John Bennett recently compared efforts to urge COVID-19 vaccinations to Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust. The comparison is wrong and offensive. [Tulsa World Editorial]

Oklahoma Local News

  • ‘A badge of courage’: How “Okie” went from slur to a source of pride in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • City of Tulsa unveils new electric bus, one of four to be added to fleet [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“I’m not ready for it to give me the fight of my life… It’s time to be vaccinated.”” 

-Grace Zieba, an emergency room nurse with Integris Grove Hospital, said she was among those who resisted getting vaccinated for scientific reasons. She said she felt young and healthy, but treating gravely ill patients younger and healthier than she is finally persuaded her to get the shot. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans polled who agreed with the statement that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, while 27% disagreed. [Sooner Survey via Tulsa World]

Policy Note

Risk, Trust, and Flawed Assumptions: Vaccine Hesitancy During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The pace at which the present pandemic and future public health crises involving viral infections are eradicated heavily depends on the availability and routine implementation of vaccines. This process is further affected by a willingness to vaccinate, embedded in the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy. The World Health Organization has listed vaccine hesitancy among the greatest threats to global health, calling for research to identify the factors associated with this phenomenon. [Frontiers in Public Health]

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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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