In The Know: Lifting Oklahoma children out of poverty | Okla. drug overdose deaths increasing | New virus case avg. nearly doubles

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

Policy Matters: Lifting Oklahoma children out of poverty: Among the many provisions from this spring’s federal pandemic relief package, no single measure will do more to help our children escape poverty – even if only temporarily – than the expanded Child Tax Credit, which will start being dispersed to American families Thursday. In Oklahoma, 1 in 5 of our children live below the poverty level, which is just under $26,000 a year for a family with two adults and two children. The extended child tax credit is expected to lift more than 60,000 Oklahoma children out of poverty for even a little while. Policy watchers have noted this assistance can have positive impacts on health, food and housing security, educational outcomes, and much more. [Ahniwake Rose / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News Report InDepth – 2021 KIDS COUNT Report: Gabrielle Jacobi, OK Policy’s Child Well-Being Policy Analyst, participated in a discussion about the state of Oklahoma’s children following the recent release of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT report, which showed Oklahoma ranked 42nd nationally for overall child well-being. OK Policy is the Oklahoma affiliate for KIDS COUNT. [Oklahoma News Report / OETA]  

Oklahoma News

COVID-19 in Oklahoma: Average of new cases nearly doubles; hospitalizations back to March levels: Coronavirus hospitalizations are back to March levels as the statewide seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases nearly doubled in a week, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health data. About 271 COVID-19 patients were recently hospitalized across the state, with 94 of those patients in ICU beds. Tulsa County hospitals housed 107 of those patients, with 45 in ICU, according to OSDH data. Neither the state nor Tulsa County has seen those numbers since March, when rates were plunging following the initial availability of vaccines. [Tulsa World]

  • Health officials urge COVID vaccine as delta variant ‘trickles in,’ state sees case uptick [Enid News & Eagle]
  • COVID update from Bruce Dart: Tulsa metro at higher risk into late July [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Coronavirus surges in Oklahoma, 1,082 new cases reported [AP News] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising in Oklahoma [The Frontier]
  • Oklahoma state superintendent discusses COVID guidelines in school [KTUL]
  • Pottawatomie County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 33% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • Canadian County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 44% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 46% of people fully vaccinated [The Oklahoman]
  • Can unvaccinated people be immune due to a previous COVID infection? [Tulsa World]
  • COVID consequences: What can unvaccinated people expect if they get infected? [Tulsa World]

‘A staggering loss of human life’: Oklahoma follows national trend with huge increase in drug-overdose deaths: Oklahoma saw a 22% increase in fatal drug overdoses last year, but it’s not clear how much blame to put on the societal upheaval that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, state and federal health officials said Wednesday. Counting suicides and unintentional overdoses, the state saw 135 more drug deaths in 2020 than the year before, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As bad as that number might seem, the state’s increase wasn’t as dramatic as the national average last year, according to the CDC. Nationwide, overdose deaths hit a record 93,000, a 29% increase from 2019. [Tulsa World]

Panel on McGirt ends early in frustration, anger over lack of tribal input: The McGirt v. Oklahoma Community Impact Forum took place Tuesday evening in Tulsa. The panel included Gov. Kevin Stitt and district attorneys from across the state. No tribal leader spoke at the forum, which quickly became contentious. [KOSU] Minutes after the “McGirt v. Oklahoma community impact forum” ended early Tuesday night when a raucous crowd disrupted a panel of district attorneys that lacked tribal representation, Gov. Kevin Stitt said he wished the event would have “gone better,” but that the aim of his administration is to overturn the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling. [NonDoc]

  • Stitt’s office blames ‘fringe activists’ for early end to McGirt forum; Native Americans in audience say governor should have expected criticism [Tulsa World]
  • Stitt leaves tribal sovereignty forum early as crowd jeers lack of native representation on panel [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • McGirt forum gets noisy: How many cases can the feds handle? [Tulsa World]

Health News

New youth suicide data highlight pre-existing problem: According to a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there has been a significant rise in suspected suicide attempts, specifically among teen girls during the global pandemic. Here in Oklahoma — which has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the country — we should pay close attention to these trends as we try to understand their causes and take action to curb them in the future. [NonDoc]

More testing moved to state public health lab in Stillwater: Most of the testing performed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health is now being done at the new public health lab facility in Stillwater, PHL Science Director Dr. Jared Taylor said Thursday in a press briefing. [Stillwater News Press]

State Government News

Some school districts see a boost in teacher hires following incentive program: Oklahoma continues to navigate through an ongoing teacher shortage, with hundreds of vacancies throughout the state. However, the Oklahoma State Department of Education say they’re working to ease the tension for districts. [FOX 25]

Federal Government News

OKC mayor meets with President Biden to discuss ‘overdue’ bipartisan infrastructure bill: After meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said a proposed $1.2 trillion compromise infrastructure bill is a long overdue investment. Holt joined a bipartisan group of eight governors and mayors in a meeting with Biden to discuss their support of the bill, which would address improvements to America’s core infrastructure. For Oklahoma City specifically, Holt said the money would boost new passenger rail and public transit, in addition to fixing roads and bridges. [The Oklahoman] Holt and Norman Mayor Breea Clark, a Democrat, were the two Oklahoma city leaders to join 369 mayors from across the country in signing a letter supporting Biden’s infrastructure proposal. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Federal appeals court upholds overturned conviction in Ada ‘Innocent Man’ murder case: A federal appeals court has upheld a decision to overturn the conviction of one of two men in the 1985 kidnapping and murder of an Ada convenience store worker. Along with co-defendant Tommy Ward, Karl Fontenot was convicted twice in the kidnapping and murder of Donna Denise Haraway from an Ada convenience store in 1984 and sentenced to life without parole. [The Frontier]

FCC order could help curb contraband cell phone use in Oklahoma prisons: The Federal Communications Commission is giving state corrections departments more authority to combat contraband cell phones, which Oklahoma prisoners often use to coordinate gang attacks and other illicit activity. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economic Opportunity

City, nonprofits continue work to get remaining residents out of Vista Shadow Mountain Apartments: The City of Tulsa and housing nonprofits are still trying to relocate residents of an apartment complex near 61st and Memorial a city councilor described as being like a “third-world” country. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Ranchers emerge from pandemic with new marketing opportunities: A year after fighting for survival at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Oklahoma’s beef producers are stampeding toward new markets, and they can thank the pandemic for opening the gate. “COVID was a challenge, but we have certainly tried to turn this into an opportunity, and I think we have done that,” said Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Western Heights warned to preserve records after 15 bags of destroyed documents found: Bags of shredded documents were found at Western Heights Public Schools after the Oklahoma State Board of Education took control of the troubled Oklahoma City school district. State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister warned the school district on Wednesday against destroying any internal records. [The Oklahoman]

  • Western Heights officials defy state order – plan to hire own interim superintendent [OKC Free Press]
  • Hofmeister calls Western Heights’ decision to name its own superintendent ‘inappropriate’ [KOCO]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Five local, county proposals fail in July 13 elections [NonDoc]
  • Bridwell challenges Calvey for Oklahoma County Commissioner – says time to listen [OKC Free Press]
  • Cycling advocate protests removal of bike lanes in Black community [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Lawton City Council is emphasizing education before penalties [The Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“I understand victims’ frustrations and frustrations of nonnatives. But at the end of the day it’s treaties and the Supreme Court that are the law of the land. And I just heard excuses and circles around that … instead of focusing on ‘How can we honor the treaties?’”

-Kelsey Cooper, speaking after a “community impact forum” in Tulsa that was focused on the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision about tribal sovereignty. The forum ended early after attendees disrupted the event because no tribal nation representatives participated. [Tulsa World

Number of the Day

1 in 5

An estimated 200,000 Oklahoma children live in poverty, which is more than 1 in 5 of all children in the state. [Source: KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

A permanent monthly Child Tax Credit creates lasting financial security: The fiscal response to the COVID recession has proven the power of unrestricted cash to families. The expanded monthly Child Tax Credit will not only be a critical component of an equitable and sustained recovery, it will start to rebalance economic power and strengthen financial security in the long term.  [Economics Security Project]

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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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