In The Know: ICU bed shortage in OKC | Virus spreading in Tulsa County jail | Board moves forward with Epic contract termination

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

Pandemic, staffing shortage shut down ICU beds in OKC: Intensive care unit beds were not available Tuesday morning in Oklahoma City as COVID-19 cases surged, a central Oklahoma regional health system executive told the city council. The council got a pandemic update as it considered a mask ordinance extension, the second since the ordinance was adopted July 17. The council agreed on a 7-1 vote to extend the mask mandate to Dec. 7. [The Oklahoman]

  • As mask ordinance is extended, COVID-19 surges, and OKC has no ICU beds available [The Oklahoman] | [The Journal Record]
  • COVID-19: Hospitalizations reach new high as 15 more deaths reported in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • COVID-19 numbers surging in rural Oklahoma as hospitalization numbers reach record levels [KOCO]
  • Lawton health care facing challenges from COVID-19 [The Lawton Constitution]
  • COVID-19 cases again on upward trend in Tulsa County; additional measures to be discussed [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Milestone for Tulsa: 3% will have contracted COVID-19, public health official says [Tulsa World]
  • COVID-19 spreads in Tulsa County jail; 84 active cases, sheriff’s office says [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World]

Statewide Virtual Charter School Board votes to begin contract termination process against Epic Charter Schools: The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted Tuesday to begin contract termination proceedings against Epic Charter Schools based on the state’s new forensic audit. [Tulsa World] The board voted 3-1 to take the step on the recommendation of Assistant Attorney General Marie Schuble, who outlined numerous violations of the contract based on an investigative audit of Epic Charter Schools. [Oklahoma Watch]

Health News

‘An unbelievable chain of oppression’ America’s history of racism was a preexisting condition for COVID-19: As the country cries out for a vaccine and a return to normal, lost in the policy debates is the reality that COVID-19 kills far more people of color than white Americans. This isn’t a matter of coincidence, poor choices or bad luck — it’s by design. [USA Today via The Oklahoman]

State Department of Health issues Halloween guidance, releases recommendations on safe festivities: The Oklahoma State Department of Health released today its guidance for people planning for Halloween and other fall festivities this holiday season as some traditional celebrations do not allow for proper social distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. [Tulsa Kids]

Opinion: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has never been more important: Like Mental Health Association Oklahoma, many organizations have never closed their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic. We adapted and increased our services in this new virtual world. I want to thank everyone standing on the front lines — both physical and digital — and helping the people who need assistance the most. [Terri White / Tulsa World]

State Government News

Your questions about State Question 814 answered: State Question 814 is one of two questions on the statewide ballot in Oklahoma this fall. The complexity of the measure and lack of widespread attention has some Oklahomans wondering what exactly SQ 814 is asking. [The OklahomanOK Policy has published a non-partisan fact sheet for SQ 814 available at

OMMA reports contribution of more than $40 million toward Oklahoma education, enough to fund hundreds of teachers’ salaries: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority announced Tuesday that fees and taxes levied on the state’s cannabis industry generated enough in revenue to fund nearly 800 teachers’ salaries during the past fiscal year. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Judge finds Chickasaw Nation’s reservation still exists: A McClain County district judge ruled Tuesday that death row inmate Shaun Michael Bosse was wrongly tried in state court because the crime was committed on the Chickasaw Nation’s reservation and the victims were members of the tribe. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Sentencing reform body says it can’t act until voters decide on State Question 805: A state body charged with sentencing reform said Tuesday it will take no action until voters decide on State Question 805 in the Nov. 3 general election. [Tulsa World

A guide to State Question 805 and its potential impact on Oklahoma criminal justice: As the Nov. 3 general election date draws near, public confusion regarding State Question 805—a ballot initiative which would amend the Oklahoma Constitution and end the use of sentence enhancements against some repeat offenders—remains high. [Oklahoma Watch] OK Policy has published a non-partisan fact sheet for SQ 805 available at

Third sheriff in a month appointed in Delaware County: Delaware County residents are getting a new sheriff, the county’s third this month. Mike Wilkerson was unanimously appointed by the Delaware County commissioners on Tuesday to fill the unexpired term of Sheriff Harlan Moore, who retired from the post on Sept. 30. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

COVID-19 coverage safety net has plenty of holes in US: COVID-19 can do more than torment patients physically. It also clobbers some financially. Even though many insurers and the U.S. government have offered to pick up or waive costs tied to the virus, holes remain for big bills to slip through and surprise patients. [AP News via The Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

New cleanup to begin at former Kerr-McGee refinery: A new phase is set to begin in the decades-long process of cleaning up a former Kerr-McGee refinery site in Cushing. Use of the sprawling site by various companies can be traced back nearly to Oklahoma’s statehood, after impressive oil discoveries were recorded in the Cushing area. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Younger students in Tulsa Public Schools will go back to classrooms in November: The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education decided to send elementary students back to the classroom in November during a lengthy meeting that ended Tuesday evening and ended early Wednesday. [Tulsa World] The board chose to delay further discussion on older students returning until a meeting next week. TPS’s statement also says families who wish to continue all-virtual learning will be allowed to do so. [Public Radio Tulsa]

General News

More than 33,000 ballots counted already in Oklahoma County, here’s what that process looks like: More than 33,000 mail-in ballots, including 16,000 for the 2020 Presidential election, were counted in the first three days of processing at the Oklahoma County Election Board. While no votes were tabulated specifically for one candidate (and won’t be until Election Day on Nov. 3rd), the board said at this rate it is expecting to see an increase of nearly triple the amount of mail-in ballots from the June Primary. [The Oklahoman]

  • StateImpact Oklahoma seeks high school students for Zoom election event [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • 2020 Oklahoma voter guide: Everything you need to know before Election Day [The Oklahoman]

Supreme Court halts Census in latest twist of 2020 count: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the Trump administration can end census field operations early, in a blow to efforts to make sure minorities and hard-to-enumerate communities are properly counted in the crucial once-a-decade tally. [AP News]

Friends, colleagues remember former State Representative Jim Glover: Friends and colleagues are remembering former State Representative Jim Glover, who passed away this week. For 26 years, Jim Glover of Elgin served in the State House of Representatives. [KSWO]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC Council renews mask mandate, fails to take action on panhandling ordinance [OKC Free Press]
  • A ‘very minor inconvenience’: Bynum, Gist publicly receive flu shots to convey importance during COVID pandemic [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa District 7 incumbent files lawsuit against opponent, accusing him of fraud [Tulsa World]
  • Norman offers temporary outdoor expansion permits for bars, restaurants [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman Council declines ‘crowd management’ grant, approves Carter to Ward [The Norman Transcript]
  • Unite Norman files 3 petitions to change charter [The Norman Transcript]
  • Unite Noman attorney calls accusations ‘broad and inaccurate’ [The Norman Transcript]
  • Lawton Council keeps mask mandate in place, but looks toward exit strategy [The Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“We are definitely feeling a crunch and all of our facilities are well above capacity, they’re functioning at an average of about 110% to 120% capacity.”

-Heather Yazdanipour, a regional director of the Regional Medical Response System, which focuses on regional health care capabilities in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma children who live in families that receive public assistance.

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

TANF Benefits Still Too Low to Help Families, Especially Black Families, Avoid Increased Hardship: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the primary cash assistance program for families with the lowest incomes, is at its weakest point in the program’s history in most states. In 33 states, benefit levels have declined by at least 20 percent in inflation-adjusted value since TANF’s enactment in 1996. In every state, benefits are at or below 60 percent of the poverty line and fail to cover rent for a modest two-bedroom apartment. TANF does a poor job of providing assistance to Latino and especially Black children, whose parents and the communities in which they live are more likely to feel the devastating effects of COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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.