In The Know: Majority of Oklahoma delegation challenge Electoral College votes | Information vital in decision making | 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.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Ignoring information doesn’t make problem disappear: Information is a vital part of decision-making, but key Oklahoma leaders are choosing to hide from receiving vital information regarding COVID-19 data and recommendations. News broke in late December that Oklahoma opted to discontinue receiving the weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports that contain commentary, notes and recommendations individualized for each state. I wish I could say this recent effort to squelch information about Oklahoma’s virus response was an isolated event. It is not. [Ahniwake Rose / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Majority of Oklahoma members object to Biden’s election after riot overtakes U.S. Capitol: As U.S. Sen. James Lankford began to speak Wednesday on the Senate floor, prepared to cast doubt on a presidential election his own party’s leader had just said was close to a landslide victory for President-elect Joe Biden, he was interrupted. “Protestors are in the building,” an aide told Lankford, who abruptly ended his speech. All five of Oklahoma’s House members objected to Joe Biden’s election, while the state’s two senators supported the election outcome. [The Frontier]

Coronavirus vaccine preregistration now open in Oklahoma: Registration began Wednesday in Oklahoma for residents to be notified when they are eligible for a coronavirus vaccination, according to the State Health Department, which later reported a one-day record increase in deaths due to COVID-19. [AP News] All Oklahomans can pre-register at any time on the website, The website asks for some personal information to determine at what point a person will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and nearby vaccination locations. [The Oklahoman] Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the state health department, said the portal cannot fix the main issue at hand: it doesn’t mean more vaccines. [Tulsa World]

  • Watch now: As COVID-19 vaccine distribution enters Phase 2, local officials urge patience [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Health Department Anticipates 200 COVID Vaccinations A Day For Seniors Next Week [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Local COVID vaccination phases detailed [Tahlequah Daily Press]
  • Listen Frontier: How is the vaccine rollout going in Oklahoma? [The Frontier]
  • Scattered state policies leave kinks in vaccine rollout [Big If True]

In new single-day record, 62 more Oklahomans reported dead from COVID-19: The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 3,305 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 311,573. The state’s seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, remains at record levels. It rose from 3,498 to 3,506. The record is 3,562, set on Sunday. The average had dipped to around 2,600 as reporting lagged around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Oct. 5 was the last time the seven-day average was below 1,000. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • COVID-19: 62 deaths reported as Oklahoma leads U.S. in virus hospitalizations rate [Tulsa World]
  • COVID-19 death data released to The Frontier after previous denials [The Frontier]

Health News

With Cherokee Nation vaccinations well underway, other locals are now beginning to be inoculated: Cherokee County officials and employees were lined up at the courthouse Wednesday morning to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. District 3 County Commissioner Clif Hall said the local health department had contacted them, and they were supposed to get the shot two weeks earlier. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Oklahoma receives waiver to provide mental health, addiction services to more patients: Officials say that more Oklahomans will now be able to receive mental health and addiction services. Oklahoma is one of only seven states to receive an Institution for Mental Diseases waiver for serious mental illness and addiction from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. [KFOR]

State Government News

Some Oklahoma lawmakers resist wearing masks at Capitol: A deeply divided Legislature gathered Tuesday for the first official day of session as debate continued to rage over what precautions should be taken in the Capitol to slow the spread of COVID-19. [CNHI via Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma lobbyists agree to pay $115K ethics settlement: Two Oklahoma lobbyists have agreed to pay $115,000 in penalties as part of a settlement announced Tuesday by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. The settlements by the commission were reached with lobbyists James Milner and James McSpadden, who both served as treasurers of the Oklahoman’s for Healthy Living political action committee. [AP News]

Federal Government News

What the attorney for OKC bomber Timothy McVeigh had to say about AG pick Merrick Garland: The attorney who defended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh at trial is praising Joe Biden’s choice for attorney general. Attorney Stephen Jones said Merrick Garland will become one of the great attorneys general of the United States. At the time of the bombing in 1995, Garland held one of the top positions at the U.S. Justice Department. [The Oklahoman

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County jail inmate, 59, found dead in cell: A 59-year-old male inmate was found dead in his cell late Tuesday at the Oklahoma County Detention Center, jail officials said. The inmate was alone in his cell and was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said in a press release. The inmate’s name was not released while jail officials work to contact his next of kin. [AP News] The inmate death was the second so far this year and the fourth since mid-December at the jail just west of downtown Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Funds still available through CARES Act: Oklahoma City officials used CARES Act dollars to help thousands of residents come out of the pandemic with skills for a new career and, now that the deadline for spending the funds has been extended, more people can be helped. [The Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma rated low on ‘Zoom towns’ list: “Oklahoma is a tough place to work from home,” according to RetailMeNot. Researchers have determined the state fails to measure up on the study’s composite work-from-home rating, which scores Oklahoma poorly in areas such as educational attainment, poverty, physical health, mental health and weather. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKC council: Former school building to be converted to homeless shelter [The Oklahoman]
  • Norman cuts ribbon for $11.86 million ‘crown jewel’ Dimensions Academy [The Oklahoman]
  • Residents, local officials seem to favor tourism tax [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Quote of the Day

“(Vaccine) appointments are limited by supply. That’s going to be a core tenant moving forward. We can’t enter appointments in the system if we don’t have a supply to support them.”

-Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the state health department, speaking about Oklahomans pre-registering for vaccinations with appointments to be scheduled later by priority and vaccine availability. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Wednesday reported 62 Oklahomans died from COVID-19, which was a single-day record. [Source: Oklahoma State Department of Health via Public Radio Tulsa]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How misinformation is distorting COVID policies and behaviors: The COVID-19 pandemic has been far reaching in its effects, but knowledge of key facts about the virus and related perceptions of risk associated with it are far from uniform. The varied perception of the facts is caused, at least in part, by varied exposure to relevant information. Using monthly data from 35,000 U.S. adults who responded to the Franklin Templeton-Gallup Economics of Recovery Study, we document significant variation in the understanding of COVID-related facts and concomitant behaviors. In a random controlled experiment that exposes people to different pieces of information, we observe large differences in the likelihood of buying away-from-home services, acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine, and policy preferences regarding the closing of schools and restaurants. [Brookings]

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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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