In The Know: Health officials worried about hospital capacity, staffing | State finalizing vaccine plan | Voter registration deadline Friday

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

Record numbers of COVID-19 patients hospitalized two weeks after Oklahoma declined to renew overflow contracts: Two straight nights of record COVID-19 hospitalization numbers have hit Oklahoma two weeks after the state ended its overflow contracts with hospitals. As flu season nears, public health and medical professionals are concerned about strained hospital capacity and staffing shortages in Oklahoma, especially regarding intensive-care beds. [Tulsa World]

  • COVID-19: Hospitalizations hit new high as Oklahoma sees 1,364 new cases, 11 more deaths [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma hits new high in COVID hospitalizations, posts 2nd highest case increase [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Younger Oklahomans increasingly testing positive for COVID-19 [KGOU]

Oklahoma health officials finalizing state’s COVID vaccine plan: State health officials believe they’re on their way to getting Oklahoma’s COVID vaccine plan approved by the federal government. “The CDC was here just a few days ago, and they told us that we will probably be the first state in the nation to go green with their vaccination plan because we’re very close to finishing that up,” Interim State Health Commissioner Lance Frye told the State Board of Health on Tuesday. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Voter registration deadline is Friday for Nov. 3 election: This upcoming Friday, Oct. 9, will be the last day for Oklahomans to register to vote in the Nov. 3 General Election. All registration applications must be filled out, mailed in and postmarked no later than midnight on Friday. [Norman Transcript] Those who aren’t registered or need to change their registration may apply by filling out and mailing an Oklahoma Voter Registration Application form in time for it to be postmarked no later than midnight on Oc. 9. [Woodward News] For more information visit

  • Oklahoma Engaged: How fear and anxiety impact political behavior [KGOU]

State Government News

Policing: Widely different perspectives outlined during state House panel discussion: Tuesday’s policing study by the Oklahoma House of Representatives was a sort of good cop, bad cop routine. The first 3 1/2 hours, led by Public Safety Committee Chairman Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, consisted of police chiefs, sheriffs and other law enforcement officials telling what an extraordinary job their officers do under increasingly difficult circumstances. The last 2 1/2 hours, led by Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, belonged to criminal justice and police reform advocates insisting things aren’t quite as wonderful as all that. [Tulsa World] State House Committee holds studies on how best to support, reform police [Public Radio Tulsa]

Depleted trust fund means employers will pay more: Oklahoma employers will have to pay more into the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund beginning in January as a result of a major drawdown on the fund this year. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission notified state employers recently that various factors played into calculations that unemployment insurance tax rates will have to be raised by anywhere from 0.3% to 7.5%. [The Journal Record]

Court strikes provision in workers’ comp law: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional yet another piece of the Legislature’s 2014 workers’ compensation overhaul. The provision that limits recovery for wrongful death to only a spouse, child or legal guardian dependent on the decedent is in conflict with the Oklahoma Constitution, the court found in the case of Whipple v. Phillips and Sons Trucking. [The Journal Record]

State agencies begin move into downtown OKC’s SandRidge Tower: Activity is picking up at SandRidge Energy’s former downtown office tower as state agency employees have begun moving into their new quarters. The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Oklahoma Tax Commission and Oklahoma Department of Health already have begun moving their staffs into the building. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Tribes sharply criticize EPA granting Stitt environmental oversight of tribal lands: Weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation was never disestablished, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted Oklahoma’s governor the authority to oversee environmental programs on Tribal lands. Normally, a state has no jurisdiction on Indian lands. That’s something left between the Tribal Nations and the federal government. But Friday, the EPA granted Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt environmental oversight. [KOSU]

Winner of CD 5 race could help shape marijuana policy: Medical marijuana has grown into a robust Oklahoma industry since the passage of State Question 788 in July 2018, but its future may continue to be limited by marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug thanks to the federal Controlled Substances Act, which impedes banking access to those in the industry. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County Jail must house and support ICE according to Board of County Commissioners: The Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners voted Monday to make the local jail support and house ICE. The decision is in direct contradiction with a county jail trust decision to remove an ICE agent from the jail. [StateImpact Oklahoma / KGOU]

Education News

OKCPS discusses return to campus, approves raises: At Monday night’s Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education meeting, members discussed their plan to bring pre-K and kindergarteners back to in-person learning. OKCPS intends on having pre-K and kindergarten students return to the classroom on an A/B schedule Monday, Oct. 19, if Oklahoma County COVID-19 rates can remain in Orange Level One — meaning fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 people — for two consecutive weeks. [NonDoc]

  • Protesters outside Tulsa school board: ‘Distance learning, it’s just not working’ [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma City, Tulsa school districts lay out their plans for coming back in person [KGOU]
  • Enid schools quarantine, isolation numbers rise [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Irving Middle School returning to in-person learning Tuesday after pivot to remote [Norman Transcript]
  • ‘I’m overwhelmed’: Single parents navigate virtual learning [NonDoc]

OU, OSU cancel spring break, go online after Thanksgiving: Oklahoma’s two largest universities have eliminated spring break and will not return to in-person learning after Thanksgiving. The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University announced Tuesday they will start the spring semester a week later than planned to remove spring break from their academic calendars. [The Oklahoman] The hope is that canceling spring break will limit students’ travel — and the spread of COVID-19 — in hopes that the semester can be completed in person. [Tulsa World]

General News

Census deadline extension gives Oklahomans more time: The effort by the U.S. Census Bureau to count everyone living in Oklahoma has been extended to the end of the month. A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Census Bureau has to continue counting until October 31. This means that Oklahomans still have time to respond — and that census workers will continue to knock on doors. [KOSU]

City to conduct second round of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre mass graves test excavations: A second round of test excavations of potential unmarked graves related to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is scheduled to continue later this month, the city announced Tuesday. The examination of an area near the west end of Oaklawn Cemetery, 1133 E. 11th St., will begin on Oct. 19. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa Mayor denies ignoring any request to retain Black Lives Matter street painting: Mayor G.T. Bynum said Tuesday that neither he nor his office had been contacted by a Greenwood District arts organization about saving the Black Lives Matter street sign there. C.J. Webber-Neal, president of the Greenwood Arts & Cultural Society, told the Tulsa World on Monday that he spoke with two staff members from the Mayor’s Office last month. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“We have a shortage in Oklahoma of nurses and physicians, and what we’re seeing is from time to time hospitals are going on divert (sending new patients to other hospitals) because they just don’t have that capacity either for ICU beds or COVID beds. That situation can change hourly, but it shows us that things are under strain.”

-Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Hispanic adults (aged 18-64) who are uninsured, more than twice the national average of 14.5%

[Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

As Pandemic Deaths Add Up, Racial Disparities Persist — And In Some Cases Worsen: As the U.S. has surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, and reached nearly 7 million confirmed cases, racial data is more complete, and the trend is crystal clear: People of color get sick and die of COVID-19 at rates higher than whites and higher than their share of the population. The trend has persisted — and in some cases worsened — since NPR analyzed this data in May. As the country struggles to bring the pandemic under control, Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans bear an unequal burden. [NPR]

Note: In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15 ), we will be sharing policy notes and numbers of the day that speak to issues facing Latinx communities in America. 

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.