In The Know: Managing revenue shortfall; impacts on rural hospitals; child care crucial during pandemic; and 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. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Tomorrow is the last day to submit your comment on the Governor’s health care proposal: Despite a global health crisis and disruptions to the health care system, Gov. Stitt’s administration is moving forward with a proposal that threatens access to health care. Tomorrow is the last day to submit a public comment on this proposal. Submit a public comment.

Emergency relief, policy changes urgently needed for child care in Oklahoma: Oklahoma child care providers are the backbone of our state’s economy, and they are playing an especially vital role during the pandemic. However, providers cannot sustain this critical resource, and families will struggle to keep their children safe, without urgent emergency relief and critical policy changes. Eleven state organizations crafted a series of recommendations for how to address child care in Oklahoma. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

With budget shortfall looming for Oklahoma, expert recommends ‘stress tests’: Oklahoma may use hundreds of millions of dollars from savings to deal with the impacts of an oil slump and the pandemic over this fiscal year and the next. While the state has reserves, the amount of the shortfall is unclear. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy: The state budget is at risk, but how much risk and for how long?

Three more deaths reported as Oklahoma surpasses 2,000 cases: The deaths of three more Oklahomans from COVID-19 brings the state’s total to 99 as the Oklahoma State Department of Health reports that the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the state has passed 2,000. [Tulsa World] Each weeknight, the Oklahoma State Department of Health releases a treasure trove of data related to COVID-19 in Oklahoma — stats, equipment updates, hospital status, etc. [The Oklahoman] Visit for the latest COVID-19 numbers in Oklahoma.

Rural hospitals face more hurdles in COVID-19 fight: As coronavirus continues to spread into rural Oklahoma, hospitals serving those communities are worried about keeping up. As the interim CEO of Drumright Regional Hospital, Darrel Morris has seen the slowdown in patients at his critical access hospital serving more than 12,000 people in Creek and Payne counties. [The Oklahoman

Child care centers, homes struggle in midst of COVID-19 pandemic: More than 700 child care centers and homes in the state were “inactive” as the week began, shuttering spots for tens of thousands of children, state human services officials said Monday. [Tulsa World] OK Policy and ten other state organizations have developed emergency relief and policy changes that are urgently needed for Oklahoma’s child care providers. 

Health News

State investigates more than 25 long-term care centers: More than 25 long-term care facilities were under investigation by the state last week as coronavirus outbreaks kept rising, with now 25 deaths of residents and 335 positive cases. But officials are releasing few details. [Oklahoma Watch] Bartlesville nursing home suffers coronavirus outbreak as 45 people test positive. [FOX23]

Gov. Stitt: Oklahoma hospitals has enough hospital beds and ventilators: Stitt says Oklahoma has more than four times the number of hospital beds the state health department predicts will be needed, more than three times the number of necessary ICU beds, and more than nine times the number of ventilators. [KOSU

Grocery workers are worried about personal safety: Grocery employees across the country are feeling stressed, overworked and are seeing co-workers get sick and in some cases dying as customers continue wiping out store shelves due to the pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

Appeals court blocks Oklahoma COVID-19-related abortion ban: A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower-court order that overturned the Oklahoma governor’s ban on abortions during the coronavirus outbreak emergency. [AP News] The three judges on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused on a technicality to consider the merits of the issue. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma shouldn’t expect a quick return to normal after the COVID-19 shutdown, OU researcher says: The state can’t simply pick a date to return to normal after the COVID-19 shutdown, a University of Oklahoma researcher said Monday. [Tulsa World]

Disease experts unsure when COVID-19 arrived in Oklahoma: State health officials said private laboratories were already testing Oklahomans for suspected cases of COVID-19 in the weeks before the first confirmed case. [CNHI / Tahlequah Daily Press]

State Government News

State employment office adds capacity to handle heavy volume of claims: The state agency responsible for administering Oklahoma’s unemployment insurance program continued to bolster its operations last week as it dealt with an ongoing heavy demand for its services. [The Oklahoman] See the redesigned unemployment website to file claims; average wait times down to 15 to 30 minutes. [Tulsa World]

Lawsuit alleges Vinita’s COVID-19 stay-at-home ordinance violates constitutional rights, seeks injunction: The city of Vinita is facing a lawsuit filed Monday seeking an injunction and court ruling against the city’s recently passed emergency ordinance requiring people to, with some exceptions, stay in their homes or temporary residences and establishes a curfew in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. [The Frontier]

Doctors ask Oklahoma, other death penalty states, to give up execution drugs for COVID-19 patients: There’s a national shortage of the drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients in ICU beds, and a group of out-of-state doctors penned a letter asking Oklahoma to share its supply with local hospitals. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma National Guard increases activation numbers to help with state-run testing: Additional members of the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guards have been put on active status, bringing the total to 175, a public affairs officer said Monday. [Tulsa World]

Stitt defends decision not to issue statewide shelter-in-place order in Fox News interview: Gov. Kevin Stitt appeared on Fox News over the weekend and defended his decision not to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order. Stitt said his orders telling the elderly and those with compromised immune systems to stay home, prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people, and closing nonessential businesses are sufficient. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal Government News

Inmate alleges state has shifted to ‘brand new argument’ in Muscogee (Creek) reservation case: The state of Oklahoma has created a “brand new argument” to contend that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation doesn’t have a reservation, but evidence shows that Congress deliberately chose to prevent the tribe’s land from entering the public domain, an Oklahoma prison inmate’s lawyers told U.S. Supreme Court justices last week. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

As COVID-19 risk grows in prisons, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board may streamline commutations: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board could speed up the commutation process because of COVID-19. Executive Director Steven Bickley said during a meeting on Monday they would try to get the turnaround time for commutation applications down to 30 days. [Public Radio Tulsa

Economic Opportunity

Record numbers seeking food during economic downturn from COVID-19: Agencies that provide food for those in need are experiencing record levels of demand for people who are experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Free Press OKC]

Economy & Business News

State commerce department, governor, announce manufacturing reboot program: The state has announced the creation of the Oklahoma Manufacturing Reboot Program, which will address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Oklahoma businesses, specifically manufacturers. [Tulsa World] The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has made $5 million available for grants to help manufacturers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic retool their operations. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Left out: Medical marijuana ‘essential’ but ineligible for disaster relief: Laws that don’t address needs of people involved in the medical marijuana industry may be harming Oklahomans and businesses in the state. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust holds do-over to comply with Open Meeting Act: In an unapologetic do-over, the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust again agreed to a joint resolution with the City Council to offer a relief program in three parts to “small businesses” in Oklahoma City affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Free Press OKC]

‘Gigantic impact’: Chesapeake Energy’s complex legacy: In 2007, Forbes named Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy the “best managed” oil and gas company in the country. It was a designation based not only on the firm’s financial success but also on the “management ability, innovation and leadership” of its executives, including co-founder and CEO Aubrey McClendon. [NonDoc] Following a special meeting Monday of Chesapeake Energy shareholders, the company’s board of directors approved a reverse stock split designed to raise the value of the struggling company’s stock price. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Oklahoma superintendent discusses schools’ first week of distance learning: Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister talked about schools’ first week of distance learning, what officials are doing to make sure every student has access and how the districts are making sure the students don’t go hungry. [KOCO]

OKC Public School Board votes to retail superintendent to stay three more years: After spending two years on the job, Monday night’s vote of the OKCPS Board of Education went 7-1 for Dr. Sean McDaniel, superintendent for Oklahoma City Public Schools, contract to extend to the end of June 2023. [Free Press OKC]

General News

Amid pandemic, signs emerge of growing family violence at home: Family violence is escalating in parts of the state as the stress of the pandemic mounts. Weeks of isolation, financial strain and fear are heightening tensions, and some agencies say they have seen the effects. [Oklahoma Watch]

Tribes push 2020 census completion despite pandemic: Tribes in Oklahoma have worked the last decade to ensure their members are better counted in the 2020 U.S. census, but the coronavirus pandemic is making that harder. [Gaylord News / NonDoc]

Tornado season on the horizon complicates COVID-19 restrictions: As springs storms arrive, twister time is here, and state and Cleveland County officials have issued recommendations to stay safe from both menacing virus and malignant weather. [The Norman Transcript]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa gas prices lowest in nation [AP News / Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa braces for large reductions in sales, use tax collections [Tulsa World]
  • 5 new coronavirus cases in Tulsa County, no new deaths [KTUL]
  • Muskogee County leaders begin to plan for economic recovery while mitigation proceeds [Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Edmond city budget for next difficult because of unknown impact on revenue [Edmond Sun]
  • Authorities say Enid and Garfield County residents heeding COVID-19 precautions [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Woodward County commissioners weigh in on economic impact of COVID-19 [Woodward News]
  • Up to 15 cases in Stephens County [Duncan Banner]
  • Stephens County Health Department addresses anticipated COVID-19 peak [Duncan Banner]
  • Council to consider financial help for businesses, nonprofits [McAlester News-Capital]
  • ‘Different way of doing things’: McAlester Public School administrators assess first week of distance learning [McAlester News-Capital]
  • First COVID-19 death reported in Pontotoc County, case count rises to 10 [Ada News]
  • More charges for former Wetumka Mayor James Jackson: Lewd acts with minors, child porn, bestiality [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“The (COVID-19) infection rate is 50% higher in prisons, and this isn’t the regular flu. I mean, this is killing people.”

-Pardon and Parole Board member Kelly Doyle speaking about the need to have inmates with medical risk considered for any faster commutation process [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day

$8.6 Billion

Additional funding which would be available to Oklahoma over the next decade to fund services if the state expanded Medicaid.

[Source: Urban Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

States lead the fight against COVID-19. That means we all depend on Medicaid now: In the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone’s health depends on the well-being of society’s least privileged. Even the well-off cannot isolate themselves entirely; they depend on the labor of those who cannot afford to do so. And everyone’s well-being depends on the states’ public health response, which may be only as good as their Medicaid programs. [Washington Post]

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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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